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Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven
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Text: Mark 10:17-31

Main Idea: Jesus changes the conversation from “how to go to heaven” to “how to enter the kingdom” or what life in the kingdom is like. Bottom line: there’s no classism in heaven; the rich are going to have a hard time.

Introduction
1. There’s a song by a group called David Crowder Band that I really like.
2.

It starts off…
“Everyone wants to go to heaven, But nobody wants to die”

3. It seems like a fair assessment to me.
4. Everybody wants to go to heaven, right? Assuming there is a place called heaven that is something like what we imagine, who wouldn’t want to be there, in paradise?
5. But no one wants to die.
6. Including the rich man who comes to Jesus in today’s passage.
Read Mark 10:17-31
1. Who is this guy and what does he want?
  a. Mark tells us only that he is a man.
  b. Only Matthew says he is young and only Luke says he is a ruler.
  c. The only common denominator in all the versions of this story is that he is a rich man – which is the point of the story.
2. He wants to know how to gain eternal life – live forever – go to heaven and enjoy paradise.
3. He begins with flattery – “Good teacher…”
  a. Expecting, of course, a compliment in return
  b. He receives none – only a rebuke
    1) Only God is good – no one else!
4. Then Jesus recites some of the 10 Commandments to indicate what he must do to inherit eternal life.
  a. This man says he’s done all that since he was a boy.
    1) Probably not an arrogant statement but a genuine statement.
    2) Means – this man had been a devout Jew from his birth and these Commandments were like air and water to him.
    3) This was not a new thing
  a. So, either the man was encouraged by being told he only needed to do what he already had been doing – an affirmation that he was “in”
  b. Or, he perhaps felt deflated because he came to this rabbi wanting more – his own heart convicted him and just hearing what he already knew wasn’t really that compelling.
5. Either way, Jesus is not finished…
  a. Jesus 1) looked at him and 2) loved him
    1) Only place in Mark where Jesus is said to love someone.
  b. One thing you lack…
    1) Sell everything you have…
    2) Give to the poor…
    3) You will have treasure in heaven…
    4) Then come follow me.
6. His face fell…
  a. Jaw dropped
  b. Stunned…silent…
  c. And he went away sad….
  d. Why? 
    1) Because he had great wealth.
7. Now, in classic Markan style, Jesus turns to his disciples
  a. How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.
    1) Notice the language of “Kingdom of God.”
    2) This rich man didn’t asks about entering God’s kingdom
    3) Or even becoming a follower of Jesus.
    4) He asked about going to heaven
      a) And Jesus told him how to enter the kingdom of God
      b) Which means, come under the rule of God or reign of God.
    5) Jesus tells him what he must do to enter and he is blown away.
7. But it’s not just the rich man who is stunned.
8. The disciples are shocked as well.
9. Can you imagine their amazement?
  a. Here’s a man who is obviously a spiritual seeker.
  b. And Jesus’ little tribe of followers could seriously use a shot in the arm, financially.
  c. They don’t have anywhere to sleep
  d. They depend on others for their food
  e. They wander from place to place and their sandals are seriously worn out.
  f. They man could really put a new face on the Jesus movement.
  g. And Jesus sends him packing.
10. When Jesus makes his kingdom pronouncement they are dumbfounded.
  a. So Jesus repeats it again, adding some a graphic and some say, gory, metaphor.
  b. It’s easier to thread a needle with a camel than to get a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
  c. That’s a pretty difficult thing to do!
    1) Now the disciples are really losing it.
    2) They’re about to go follow the rich man because this is impossible.
  d. They look at each other and say, “Who then can be saved?”
11. Jesus’ point – and the disciples are getting it – is that this man is ruled by his wealth.
  a. In order to be under God’s rule he must break free of wealth’s hold on him.
12. Those who are ruled by money cannot be ruled by God.
13. And so the rich will find it harder to enter the kingdom (or, come under God’s rule) than to squeeze a camel through the eye of a needle.
The Trouble with Wealth
1. Too often we see what we want to see in scripture
2. We conveniently avoid the things we don’t want to see or hear.
3. This teaching about wealth is something the church has spilled a great deal of ink trying to wiggle out form under.
  a. So many explanations have been offered that say, essentially, that Jesus didn’t mean what it seems like he meant.
  b. But he’s pretty clear and unequivocal.
4. The easiest way out from under this kingdom teaching is to identify the rich as someone else.
  a. In our consumer society we have all learned to live up to the limit of our income and so we never have enough.
  b. When asked how much is enough Solomon probably said it best, “Just a little bit more!”
  c. And, the way our economy is structured in America today, you can make $100,000 and still fell squeezed.
  d. If you don’t believe me, try to finance your first home with an annual income of $100,000.
    1) That’s why, according to the recent statistics, that only 12% of Angelinos can afford to buy a home.
    2) So much for the American dream
5. So, we are obviously not rich so this story is for someone else.
6. As
7. But look at what is happening in this story.
8. The rich are those who have a particular relationship with money.
  a. They have come to trust money
  b. They have accepted money as their personal savior
  c. You think I’m kidding?
  d. Haven’t you? Haven’t you accepted money as your Savior!?
    1) Think of all the things you depend on your money to do for you?
    2) Save you from starvation, homelessness, boredom
    3) Most of all your money saves you from dependence
      a) Dependence on others and, believe it or not, dependence on God
  e. This is why the rich man goes away sad.
    1) He cannot let go of the security and safety that his money has bought him.
9. Friends, I have bad news for you.
  a. This story is for us.
  b. It’s for you and it’s for me.
  c. But, it’s for some of us more than others.
  d. Some of us here today are genuinely poor.
  e. But some of us here today are rich!
  f. Let’s say it together, “I’m rich!”
  g. It’s like a support group.
  h. Come out of your denial and admit it. I’m rich.
  i. Confession: I bought a new car this week.
    1) Yeah, I know.
    2) It’s a bummer. And I could cry on your shoulder all day about how I’m a victim of a system that is bigger than me.
    3) But isn’t that all of us.
  j. Money and the economy IS the story of our world
  k. The economy is our grand narrative and we will admit into our lives whatever jives with that big story.
  l. You watch, what will drive this election and the one in two years is not ethics on Capitol Hill, poverty here at home and around the world.
  m. It will be the economy and it’s first cousin, national security.
    1) Our national security mandate is to protect what?
    2) Not people’s lives so much as our way of life.
    3) In fact we are willing to risk people’s lives to preserve our way of life.
    4) This is the degree to which we are sick with the disease of the rich man!
    5) And it will cost us everything!
10. Jesus prescription?
  a. Sell everything and give it to the poor.
  b. In other words, redistribute your wealth – you got it by defrauding the poor anyway.
  c. There is no level playing field.
  d. There is no equal access to the pond.
  e. Knowing how to fish is absolutely no guarantee that you will eat today.
  f. When a multinational corporation owns the pond you eat when we tell you to eat.
  g. I know this might sound radical, but what I am trying to do is approximately, in language we understand, that edge this in Jesus’ teaching.
11. Last week we talked about radical equality in marriage and in relationships with children.
  a. In the kingdom of God, Jesus tells us, we cannot use people and treat them like an “IT”.
  b. In today’s passage he speaks of a radical equality in economics.
  c. And in the close of this passage Jesus foreshadows the church – which becomes the embodiment of the kingdom in the world.
Receiving a hundred-fold in God's kingdom
1. Look again at verses 28-31.
2. Peter is getting nervous.
  a. But, but, but…
  b. Lord, we have left everything to follow you!
  c. What about us, Lord?
  d. Is this thing completely hopeless?
3. Jesus doesn’t make a point to either refute or affirm Peter’s statement, but there seems to be an implicit affirmation there.
4. And Jesus makes a promise.
5. It is a promise for now and later
  a. For now, those who have given up
    1) Home
    2) Brothers or sisters
    3) Mother or father
    4) Children
    5) Fields (Nets?)
  b. For “me” and for the gospel (Kingdom)
  c. Will not fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age
    1) Homes
    2) Brothers
    3) Sisters
    4) Mothers (and Fathers?)
    5) Cildren
    6) Fields
    7) Persecutions!!!
  d. And in the age to come, eternal life
6. But many who are first will be last and the last first.
  a. Completes a thought that Mark began some time ago with the first “first/last” saying.
7. The focus here – and the force of the promise – is for the present age.
8. The promise of the kingdom of God is for this present age!
9. And what can Jesus mean by this hundred-fold blessing?
10. As Mark is writing to his community this story he can only be expressing, in the worlds of Jesus, the gathered asssets of the community of faith.
  a. As they [Mark’s community] gave up the things that used to bring them security and began to place their trust in something completely different, they discovered (or Mark wants them to see) that the gathered assets of the church are worth 100 times.
11. Is it possible, in our day and age, to live in a way that runs counter to the economic logic of our age?
  a. Can we realistically give us “homes and fields and family” for the gospel?
    1) Some of us already have.
  b. Can we realistically sell what we have and give it to the poor?
  c. Or are we, like the rich man, going to walk away sad.
Conclusion
1. Jesus is not going to soften his message for the rich man.
2. He looks at him and loves him and gives him the one message that will save his life!
  a. Remember what Jesus said earlier – “Whoever wants to save his life must loose it.”
4. But though Jesus loves this rich man, the rich man loves his wealth more.
5. Jesus mentions “eternal life” at the end of the story
  a. Remember, that’s where the rich man starts his dialogue with Jesus.
6. He wants to go to heaven, but he cannot enter the kingdom
7. I think many of us have that same challenge
8. We want eternal life, but we find that following Jesus is a lot harder.
  a. Or, in the worlds of David Crowder Band…
"Everyone wants to go to heaven, But nobody wants to die"
9. May God give us the strength and the courage to let go of our idols – our false securities – and place our completely confidence on Christ and His Kingdom!

Submitted by Ryan J. Bell. Better Sermons © 2005-2007. Click here for usage guidelines.



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