The Lord’s Message: “What Must I Do to Inherit Eternal Life?”

The Lord’s Message: “What Must I Do to Inherit Eternal Life?”
Date:  March 3, 2024
Where:  Tilghman Methodist Church
Scripture Reference:  Mark 10:17-31

            After hearing Michael read this passage of scripture, some of you probably thought, this does not apply to me, because I am not rich.  On the surface, this looks like a passage condemning people who are rich.  It is when we go deeper that we find the golden nugget that we all need to understand. 

            Let us pray.

            In verse 17, a man comes running up to Jesus.  We are not told of the status of this man.  It is not until verse 22, that we find out that the man is wealthy.  This man believes that Jesus is a rabbi or Teacher.  He does not refer to Him as the Messiah or Savior or Son of God.  He simply refers to Jesus as a “Good Teacher.”  If I were to go out in this community and ask people who is Jesus, I suspect that most would respond, as this man did, that Jesus is a “Good Teacher.”  

            The question that the man is asking is one that a lot of people, and everyone here, should be asking, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Everyone should now know that we are not going to live forever in this life.  Benjamin Franklin rightly stated that “Nothing is certain except death and taxes.” 

            Jesus answered the man in verse 18 that only God is good.  Then Jesus listed only the commandments that have to do with loving our neighbor as our ourselves in verse 19.  The man boldly replies in verse 20 that he has kept all of these since he was a boy. 

            Notice the response that Jesus has for this young man.  In verse 21, it says that Jesus looked at him and “loved” him.  Now, you might not be aware of this, but this is only the second time in the Gospels that says that Jesus loved anybody.  In the Gospel of John, the disciple, most likely John, is referred to as the “Beloved Disciple.”  Certainly, we are told that Jesus loved everybody, including those that had Him crucified.  In Luke 23:34, it says that Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  The highest form of love is to forgive someone that is causing you trials and troubles.  Forgiveness does not mean that what the person is doing to you is right and good, but that you will not hold them accountable, instead you will turn it over to God. Corrie Ten Boom says, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover that the prisoner was you.” Jesus is demonstrating this love from the cross, but this is only the second time that the scriptures say that Jesus loved somebody. 

            Why does this man move the heart of Jesus to love him?  Could it be that when he approached Jesus, in verse 17, it says that “he fell on his knees before him.”  Do you know that there are only four passages of scripture that tell of people falling on their knees before Jesus?  In Luke 17:16, Jesus heals ten people with leprosy, but only one, a Samaritan person with leprosy, returns and “threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.”  In Mark 5:22, Jarius, a synagogue ruler, falls at the feet of Jesus, pleading for Jesus to come and heal his daughter.  In Mark 5:33-34, after the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years reaches up and touches the fringe of Jesus’ robe, Jesus then turns and says, “Who touched Me.” The scripture reading says that the woman fell at Jesus’ feet. 

            I find it incredible that all the people that Jesus healed from sickness and demons only these three passages record that the people thanked Jesus for healing them.  This is the only passage that describes a person who does not have a sickness or demon is falling at the feet of Jesus in an act of respect.  How often do we take the time to thank God for all that He is doing, and will do, in our lives? 

Was it the response of the man saying, “I have kept the commandments since I was a boy,” or was it the action of this man falling at the feet of Jesus, showing Jesus the respect He deserved, that caused Jesus to love him?  I think that it might have been the question that this young man asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

This is one of the most powerful questions that Jesus wanted people to ask Him.  Not how many angels does God have.  Not how did God make the heavens and the earth.  Not how does God perform miracles, but “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

In order to have an inheritance, someone has to die.  You do not receive an inheritance while someone is living.  Recall the story of the prodigal son.  The youngest son wants to receive his father’ inheritance, even though the father is still living.  The youngest son is essentially saying to the father that I far as I am concerned you are dead to me.  There may be people in this congregation or on Facebook watching and your children may want to have nothing to do with you.  They might even go as far as saying to your face, “I wish you were dead.”  That cuts you deeply.  You now know that pain and suffering God must feel when people reject Him and His Son.  My advice is to keep praying for them.  God knows your hurt.  God is right there with you child and God will never leave them nor forsake them, but they must turn to God and open their hearts to Him.  If they do, God will be right there to welcome them home and the angels will rejoice, Luke 15:10.

Who had to die for us to receive eternal life?  Jesus.  Jesus had been trying to impress this knowledge onto the disciples.  They were so concerned as to who would be greatest in the kingdom of God.  They were so concerned about leaving their families, their jobs, and their homes.  Jesus has been telling them over and over again, Mark 9:31-32.  Here in front of Jesus is this young man asking the very question that Jesus wants His disciples to ask Him. 

Then Jesus’s heart must have been broken again when He tells the young man who was very rich, in verse 21, sell your possessions, give to the poor and come and follow me.  In verse 22, the man went away sad.  The man went away sad because he realized that he was not willing to give all he had to God.  He wanted to hang on to his possessions.  In Luke 12:34, he did not want to surrender his heart to Jesus. 

Jesus goes on to say that it is hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven, verse 23.  Now the disciples are shocked by Jesus’ statement about the rich people, because in their culture, the rich men get the reserved seats in the synagogue.  The poorer men are towards the back and the women and Gentiles are gathered outside of the inner chamber.  The rich men are the people to whom the religious leaders cater.  In verse 26, the disciples are thinking if it is difficult for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven, what about us?

Jesus replies in verse 27, “With man it is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”  The disciples are thinking, Jesus surely, we are going to be allowed into the kingdom of heaven.   Peter speaks up in verse 28 and say, “We have left everything to follow You!”  He is referring to the fact that they have left their families, their moms, dads, sisters, and brothers to follow Him.  They have left their occupations and way of life to follow Him.

Jesus replies in verse 29-30 that they will gain much more by following Him than what they lost. 

The answer to the question “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  is you must have a relationship with Jesus.  In John 14:6, Jesus answers this question for us.

In this passage of scripture, there are four reasons we cannot inherit eternal life.  The first reason is religion.  You can read your Bible every day.  You can quote scriptures.  You can pray to Jesus every day.  You can attend church every week.  You can be part of the Helping Hands Ministry.  You can serve on various church boards.  These activities are all very well and good, and you should be doing them, but if you do not have a relationship with Jesus, it is all for naught.  At the judgment seat, Jesus will say, “I never knew you,” Matthew 7:21-23.

The second reason is our wealth or our possessions.  Look around at everything that you own.  When JoAnn and I moved down here it took a large delivery van, plus two pick-up trucks, two cars, and a U-Haul trailer to move everything that we own.  We only had our upright freezer as our only major appliance to move.  We have been downsizing every move and there are still possessions that we need to get rid of.   Let’s face it folks. We own too much stuff.  All of this stuff takes away time spent with Jesus. 

The third reason is our families.  Families are wonderful, do not get me wrong, but sometimes families can hinder our relationship with Jesus.  Families do not all agree on the same points.  This can cause bitterness to seep into our family relationships and our relationships with God.  We need to learn how not to allow our pride to get in the way.  Families can also place obligations on us that interfere with our relationship with Jesus. 

The fourth reason is our jobs or occupations.  Our jobs may require that we work a lot of hours.  It is good to have a job.  We need a job to support ourselves and our families.  Jobs can be an obstacle to our relationship with Jesus.  This happens when we are working ourselves to a frazzle. 

All of these reasons can become an obstacle to our relationship with Jesus.  Frankly, some people are just too busy for God.  How do we avoid not having a relationship with Jesus?  We need to establish what is most important in our life.  It is Jesus or it is other people, possessions, jobs, or activities.  If it is Jesus, then we need to set boundaries, so that those other reasons do not affect our relationship with Him.  Our relationship with Jesus is the only thing that will be important in Heaven. 

We can only inherit eternal life because Jesus is the only person that could die, for your and my sins.  Jesus is our Lord, Savior, and Friend.  When we focus our relationship on Jesus, all the other parts of our life will fall into place.  I will not say that it will not be a balancing act.  I will not say that everything is going to work out fine.  I will say that if our priority is our relationship with Jesus, and we have our boundaries in place to maintain that, then our life will be filled with joy, peace, and love.  We will all grow together in Faith. Amen.

March 5, 2024 10:57 am