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How Hard it Is!

Mark 10:24 “...But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!”

The Savior exclaims “how hard it is!” The occassion is when the rich man went away sorrowful; but it might have been said about a poor man who departed. So question: How hard is it?

(1) It is harder than just faith and good intentions. This man believed in and desired eternal life. He expressed good intentions in his question: “What shall I do?” Many today believe that having an honest and sincere heart is all you need to inherit eternal life? That was not the Lord’s answer.

(2) It is harder than just knowing the commandments. Jesus said this man knew the commandments. Knowledge is an essential prerequisite but obviously it takes more to inherit eternal life than the ability to recite God’s Will.

(3) It is harder than just keeping the commandments. Again, this is essential. It is Jesus’ first answer. And this ruler should be commended for the strictness of his moral life in keeping the commandments “even from his youth”. Again, Jesus imposes more than morality alone for salvation.

(4) It is hard because it requires the personal application of God’s Law to his personal lifestyle. He asked a personal question “what shall I do?” and Jesus gives him his personal answer. “Sell all” is not required of all men (even all rich men) but it was precisely what this man needed to do. It was exactly what made it so hard!

The passage says he was rich but not that he loved riches. Maybe he did, but if 1 Tim 6:10 applies, we have little evidence of it. Why then did he have such a hard time with the Lord’s command? “Sell all” required his personal application, in depth, of the heart of the commandments, especially the second greatest. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:39).” God’s will seems pretty easy until we start making personal life altering applications. So he looked at the ramifications of this command “Sell all” and went away sorrowful. Look at what this command meant to him personally:

(1) It meant he would have willingly given up all the personal luxuries of his life. Just think! What if Jesus said to me: sell the following: your car(s), computer, house(s), boat, portfolio, television, stereo, golf clubs, the mountain cabin, and everything else. Now honestly, would we be willing to give up all your personal toys to inherit eternal life or would we join the rich man in leaving Jesus.

(2) This command meant serious lifestyle changes. Do you think he could have long retained his position as a ruler in ancient Israel without his financial wealth?

(3) “Sell all that you have” meant 100%. This is not about the tithe, restoring fourfold, nor even about going “havsies” with God. “ALL” requires total commitment. This, I believe, is the test! So you want “to inherit eternal life”; how badly do you want it? Do you want it more than anything else in this world... more that everything else in your life? This is the condition, and “you shall have treasure in heaven.” Treasure in heaven are what really matters. Treasures on earth do nothing for eternity. This is the first of Matt. 6:33. It is the parable of the pearl of great price (Matt 13:46). Surely it is hard to inherit eternal life, especially if we want eternal life while wanting this life too!

(4) “And give to the poor.” This man may not have been like the selfish rich fool or like those who gave alms to be seen of men, but there is a quantum leap of difference between making a donation and, by liquidation, giving all your assets to the poor. This gets to your heart’s fundamental attitude about the poor. Do you love them enough that in order to help them you would become just like them. Understand this: when a rich man gives a few bucks benevolently, he remains a rich man; but when a rich man gives all he has to the poor, he becomes like them. This proposed action tested to the very core how this rich man really felt about the poor.

(5) This command required of him more than others. We often compare ourselves with ourselves as we look to how little it takes to get by or how little it takes to compare favorably with others. This ruler was no simpleton. He knew that Jesus was placing upon him more responsibility than was generally being placed upon the population. It was hard because it required him to face square the issues of how he felt about the righteousness, the responsibilities (and the blessings) of others in comparison with himself. When Peter asked about John, Jesus replied “What {is that} to you? You follow me!" Is our service of God flavored by the responsibilities, the successes, the failures, and even the blessings of others in the kingdom?

(6) Finally, have you observed that the “Come, follow Me” follows the going, selling all, and giving to the poor. The words of Jesus were not given arbitrarily or capriciously. All God’s commands are “for our good always”. The command was a hard command because it was exactly what this man needed to inherit eternal life. He needed this to get ready to come and follow Jesus. Following Jesus would be required, but as long as his money (or anything else) was more important to him, he would never really follow Jesus.

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