Childlike Abandon vs. Adult Reservation

July 8, 2012

Pastor Michael Hockett

Follow the Leader!

#5—Childlike Abandon vs. Adult Reservations

Mark 10:13-31


Opening Song

Opening:
Good day! I’m Michael Hockett, the Pastor of Adult Ministries here at Life Center.
    Now that the weather is finally getting nicer, my three young kids are often out
        playing in the backyard.  They love creating villages in the sandbox,
            playing house back in our trees—where they use an old tree stump
                as their kitchen counter and, most of all, jumping on the trampoline.
                   
    Have you witnessed little kids jumping on a trampoline lately?
        It’s insane!  Half the time I look out the window their feet are up
            and their heads are down. They do things over and over
                that if I tried just once would put me in traction for weeks.  
                    Most of the time it’s better for me just not to watch.  I mainly
                        just listen for laughing to ensure everything is going okay.

        Here’s something that’s really cool, though.  My kids can be out there
            having a screaming good time, and all I have to do is walk out
                the back door and say, “Anyone want to run an errand with me?”
                    And I hear a chorus of, “I do! I do! I do!”  
                        I love it that they want to be with me!
                            I think this is how God feels when we want to be with Him.

Today we’re going to look at Mark 10:13-31, where Mark tells two stories
    that serve as foils to each other as they contrast different responses to Jesus.
        One response is the eager abandonment of a child to simply be with Him,
            and the other is the sophisticated reserve and hedging of an adult
                given that same opportunity.  

    What Mark shows us is that in the end, the only way to truly be with Jesus
        is to be eager and willing to drop anything and everything
            to be with Him when He invites us along.

So that’s what we’re going to focus on today.  Let’s begin in prayer.

Message/Offering
[Video of children]
It’s easy to see why Jesus is so taken with children, isn’t it?

    My son, Ethan, is the one who says he likes to go on dates with Leslie or me.
        Leslie and I have devised a “divide-and-conquer” strategy with our three
            children to get some sane moments of one-on-one with them each week.
                We take them out individually in the evenings,
                    and it’s always heartening to see that for all the discipling
                        we do throughout the week, they’re still eager to be with us!
                            This is how God longs for us to be towards Him.

Today we’re continuing our series from the Gospel of Mark, Follow the Leader.
    Mark is a master story teller, and he likes to put stories from Jesus’
        life next to each other in such a way as to draw attention to
            their meanings and implications for our lives.
       
    As I noted at the beginning of the service, we’re going to look
        at two of those stories today in Mark 10:13-31, which the NIV [1984 ed.]
            entitles “The Little Children and Jesus,” and “The Rich Young Man.”
                Let’s take them in order, starting with the first point on your outline:

1. The Little Children and Jesus. (vv. 13-16)

As we get rolling, if you brought a tithe or offering, you can prepare that now
    as the ushers come down. Thank you for your faithful giving.

Many churches, including our own, practice the dedication of babies and young
    children to the Lord because of biblical passages such as the one we’re
        about to read in Mark 10. If you brought your Bible, go with me to
            Mark 10:13-16 to see what I mean.  (We’ll also have the passage
                up on the screen, but it will be helpful to have your Bible open to
                    see the whole context of what we’re discussing today.)

Mark 10:13-16
    13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

Biblical scholars note that Israel had a history of giving ritual blessings,
    starting with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob blessing their children and
        grandchildren.# By Jesus’ time, it was common for parents among the Jews
            and other peoples to bring their children to great men to be blessed.#
                We still carry on the tradition today: [Picture on slide
                    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/fr/1665707/posts]
                        [Leave up until “blank screen”]

    Now nobody send me emails about Bush bashing!  
        I respect President Bush, and I suspect he looks back at this one
            and laughs, too.  The kid is probably about seven now and
                has blown this picture up and hung it in her classroom somewhere!
                    (If you want to know how I know it’s a her, just look at her:
                        she’s got her mouth wide open.  [blank screen]
                            Now I know I’m going to get emails for that one!  
                                Just for the record, I’m the gabby one in my house,
                                    not that that probably comes as any surprise to you.)           

        Here’s what I want us to get: People were bringing their children to Jesus.
            Clearly, they were starting to recognize Him as a great person!
                Soon He would be noted by many as the greatest person
                    who ever lived, God in the flesh, who lived among us,
                        and who still lives today after His earthly life, death,
                            resurrection, and ascension.
                               
    So we still rightly bring our children to Jesus for His blessing on their lives.  
        And we recognize that the greatest blessing for them is that their lives would
            be dedicated to knowing Him and following Him.
                We also naturally pray that He would help us as parents in this work
                    of bringing them up to know Him, love Him and trust Him.
                        This is the highest aspiration we can have as parents.
                            It’s an eternal aspiration for our children and ourselves.

So it’s worthwhile to break down this passage to see what Jesus
    has to show us and tell us about what it means to love Him and follow Him.
        Just for starters, it’s telling to see how this brief story begins and ends:

Mark 10:13, 16 [leave up until “blank screen” below]
    13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them…. 16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

What were these people hoping Jesus would do in verse 13?
    Just touch them.  That was their only expectation of “the great man.”
        Notice how Jesus exceeds expectations in verse 14.  
            What does He do in response to the request?  
                He takes them in His arms, He puts His hands on them, and He
                    blesses them. Jesus exceeds our expectations when we’ll trust
                        ourselves, and even our children, to Him.  [blank screen]

That great Philosopher-Theologian, Mick Jagger, says,

[Y]ou can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometime, you just might find

You get what you need.


Mick hedges here a bit with “you just might find,”
    so he’s probably right as far as it goes.
        But when it comes to Jesus, He knows exactly what we need,
            and He has the authority and power like no other to deliver it.
                But here’s the rub: we have a trust issue in taking Him up on that.
                    We have to trust that Jesus really is in the business of
                        transforming lives, all lives, even the lives of those whom
                            we think are highly unlikely candidates.

The world of Jesus’ time viewed children mainly as a nuisance.
    They’d be helpful when they grew up, especially if they were male
        and could take over the responsibility of the welfare of the family
            and aging parents. But otherwise parents and society pretty much
                wanted them to stay in their place, which was silent and unseen.

    Just to give you a sense of the low value placed on children,
        even in Jewish society, consider that fathers could sell their daughters
            as slaves until they hit the age of 12.#  And after that age,
                they could still marry them off for a bride-price!#


    ILL:  I wonder what it would be like to have that kind of discipline leverage
        with my children:  “Sarah, if you don’t quit pestering your little brother,
            I’ll just sell you—that’s what I’ll do!  I bet Rob and Heather next door
                would buy you lickety-split.  They’ve been needing someone to mow
                    and weed and vacuum and mop and wash the dishes.  
                        And don’t you think I won’t do it, young lady!


       
So kids had little status and didn’t get a lot of respect or positive attention
    in the world at that time.  Given this perspective, it’s telling how the disciples
        figure they’ll look out for Jesus, sort of run interference for him.
            When people bring their children to Him, verse 13 concludes that
                “the disciples rebuked them.”

The disciples think they’re doing Jesus a favor, but we can all take comfort

    from the fact that Jesus is not like His disciples.


Mark 10:14  [Keep up until “blank screen” below]
When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Jesus was indignant.  That’s a strong term. It wasn’t the children who were
    annoying Jesus, but His own disciples!  Nothing’s changed:  
        people today still love Jesus, but find His disciples … us
            irritating as all get out!

    And this passage makes it clear why that’s the case.  Jesus accepts those
        whom society marginalizes.  He doesn’t merely touch them
            on occasion.  He throws His arms around them and blesses them.
                We disciples, on the other hand, are the worst marginalizers
                    of all, putting up all sorts of barriers between people and Jesus,
                        let alone people and ourselves.

        We tend to want people to clean up their lives before they
            offer them to Jesus.  We judge who is worthy of Jesus.
                And we pretty much shun them if they don’t meet muster.

        But there’s a little saying that goes around in Christian circles that
            we would do well to constantly apply to ourselves and others:

        Jesus loves us just as we are,

            and He loves us too much to leave us that way.   


            It’s always Jesus who does the work of transforming our lives,
                not we ourselves.  It we could do it, Jesus didn’t need to
                    undergo death and resurrection to take on and bury our sins
                        and then bring us back up with Him into new life.
                            Paul makes this point clear in

Romans 3:23-24 where he explains,
23 [F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
    And we’re not only redeemed by Christ, but transformed by Him.
        Many of you along with me love the opening of Philippians, where Paul
            tells that fledgling church that he is praying for them.
                He encourages them by writing in verse 6:

Philippians 1:6
… he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

God does the work of salvation and transformation in our lives, not us.  
    And that should give each of us great comfort. God’s all-powerful; we’re not.
        Paul similarly encourages the church at Thessalonica when he closes
            his letter to them in

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
    23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

Thank God, He will do it! When we bring our children to dedicate them to Christ,
    isn’t this what we are hoping for them, that God Himself will enter, guide
        and transform their lives for His good purposes?
            This is what Jesus wants for all of us, His creation,
                whether as children or adults.
               
    As His disciples, we need to be bringing people to Him,
        not throwing up barriers.  Then we trust Him to do His work in their lives
            through the work of the Holy Spirit and the discipleship relationships
                they form in the church. To form those relationships,
                    we have to be willing to throw our arms around people,
                        just as Jesus did and still does through us!  

When Jesus finally clears the way for the children,
    He makes a notable comment to everyone there in

Mark 10:15
“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Now sometimes we look at this passage and its parallels in the Gospels,
    and we come to the conclusion that what it means is that we need to
        have the types of virtues children have in order to merit favor with God.
            But Jim Edwards, my Gospels professor at Whitworth, makes
                an interesting observation in his highly acclaimed commentary,

The Gospel According to Mark, James Edwards
If we assume that Jesus commends children because of their innocence, purity, or even spontaneity, then we must conclude that the disciples’ acceptability in God’s kingdom depends on similar virtues. But, as Mark’s depiction of the disciples makes repeatedly clear, that is exactly what they are not, nor are we. We are not innocent and eager, but slow, disbelieving, and cowardly. In this story children are not blessed for their virtues but for what they lack: they come only as they are — small, powerless, without sophistication, as the overlooked and dispossessed of society. To receive the kingdom of God as a child is to receive it as one who has no credits, no clout, no claims. A little child has absolutely nothing to bring, and whatever a child receives, he or she receives by grace on the basis of sheer neediness rather than by any merit inherent in him- or herself. Little children are paradigmatic disciples [they’re good examples of disciples], for only empty hands can be filled.#

We’re right back to Paul’s scriptural insights into the gospel and the work
    of Christ: as Christians, we don’t bring our self-perceived virtues to Jesus
        to win His approval and acceptance.  Like children, we’re simply open to
            being with Jesus, and we take it as a given that He’ll provide
                for all our needs.

    Some people think this sounds demeaning to us as adults.
        We should be maturing as individuals and evolving as a race.
            We should be able to take care of ourselves and make our own decisions
                and be independent.  We should be the captain of our own destiny.


ILL: One extreme example of this viewpoint is Friedrich Nietzsche, who is
    the 19th century German Philosopher who famously proclaimed “God is dead.”
        He believed the world had left the idea of God behind due to advances
            in science and philosophy.  In his mind, religion,
                and particularly Christianity, had heard its death knell.
                    Now, well over a century later, we see that his claim
                        was perhaps a bit exaggerated!  

        Nietzsche particularly disliked Christianity because he thought
            the human race should evolve and develop the Übermensch,
                “the Super-human,” and a master race that would bring
                    the world to untold glories.  Christianity, in contrast,
                        tells us that we were created to be dependent upon God,
                            that, in fact, to enter the Kingdom of God, we must
                                not be independent and powerful, but childlike.
           
            It’s not a surprise, then, that Nietzsche wrote in his book
                The Anti-Christ,

I call Christianity the one great curse, the one enormous and innermost perversion… I call it the one immortal blemish of mankind.#


                For all his talk about humans evolving into super-humans,
                    Nietzsche ended up going insane and committing suicide.

        It may not surprise you that Nietzsche’s thinking had a lot of influence
            on Hitler, and look where that got us as a race.
                Hitler and his followers, for awhile, though Hitler himself was
                    Nietzsche’s much vaunted Superman….
                        But Hitler also went mad and committed suicide,
                            and he took down much of Europe with him in the process.

                Perhaps Jesus is onto something:
                    being childlike isn’t all that bad!
                        Do we want our own aggrandizement,
                            or do we want to live a life walking with our Creator,
                                doing the good and joyful things He created us for?



Jesus is inviting us to be like children, to throw off the adult reservations and
    ambitions that hamper our childlike, heartfelt desires to be with Him.
        He’s asking us to accept that we can depend on Him,
            and He will meet all of our true needs.
                We tend think that we know best what we want and need.
                    But Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:20 that God will meet
                        our needs far beyond “all we ask or imagine.”  

Trans: So in this light, the very next story in Mark is tragic.
    Jesus has just made it clear what it takes to follow Him:
        childlike abandon in trusting Him and relying on Him.
            Mark takes us next to how we as adults often respond to Jesus,
                and how, unlike children, we often let our stuff get in the way.  
                    Let’s go to the second point on your outline,  

2. The Rich Young Man.  (vv. 17-31)
I don’t believe Mark included this story to bash the wealthy or to indicate
    a vow of poverty is necessary for having a close relationship with God.  
        Just consider Job, Abraham, and David as examples—
            they were all fabulously wealthy, and they were all close to God.

        Also consider that Jesus and the disciples’ ministry on earth
            was largely underwritten by wealthy women who
                traveled with them, which we read in Luke 8:3.
                    Clearly, God isn’t prejudiced against wealth or
                        the wealthy as a matter of principle.  Just consider

    Proverbs 10:22

The blessing of the Lord brings wealth,

and he adds no trouble to it.

So God gives wealth, and He intends it to be a blessing.
    But with wealth also comes risk and great responsibility.  


ILL: Solomon was also vastly wealthy like his forebears,
    and Scripture says this was due to God’s direct blessing.  [1 Kg 3, 2 Ch 1]
        But Solomon allowed that wealth and the many wives it attracted from
            other lands to lure him into idolatry, and he lost his faith
                and his empire for his children.  



This is why we also read in Proverbs 30:8-9:

    Proverbs 30:8-9 [Keep up until “blank screen”]

8    Keep falsehood and lies far from me;

give me neither poverty nor riches,

but give me only my daily bread.

9    Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you

and say, “Who is the Lord?”

Or I may become poor and steal,

and so dishonor the name of my God.

It’s striking that in these stanzas about money and how it can affect
    our relationship with God, the psalmist starts in verse 8,
        “Keep falsehood and lies far from me.” [blank screen]
            He’s warning us that money can be deceiving.
                Either in its abundance or in its lack, it can sell us lies
                    that take us away from God and His ways.
                       
    In either poverty or riches, the primary lie is this:  
        I can’t trust God to meet my needs.
            Let’s see how this dynamic plays out, then, with the Rich Young Man.
                Go with me now to   

Mark 10:17-31

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

28 Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”

29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”


There are at least two unique things that crop up in this passage.
    The first is right at the beginning in verse 17.  The young man asks,

“‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’”


Many of us are so familiar with the overall gospel story that what I’m about to say  
    may seem hard to believe, but this is the first time in the Gospel of Mark—
        two-thirds of the way through—that anyone asks Jesus this most
            fundamental question.
               
    So the rich young man asks The $64,000 Question, and he’s passionate about it!  
        He runs up and falls on his knees in order to ask it before this
            unusual rabbi who’s rapidly grown in fame.

The other unique thing that crops up in this Gospel is Mark’s statement
    of how Jesus feels about this impetuous young man.  In verse 21
        we read, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

With Peter, one of Jesus’ very best friends, it’s, “Get behind me, Satan!”
    (That was kind of unique …, too.)
        But with this young man, it’s a heart and look of love.  

Jesus’ response seems to indicate that the young man’s question is sincere, and
    that he was probably keeping the ethical demands of the 10 Commandments.
        So what’s getting between him and the love of God,
            which is being offered to him right there in the person of Jesus Christ?
       
        This is most likely a good, moral person.  Society would smile upon him.  
            Jesus sees who he is to his core, and he loves him.  
                And the young man is blessed with wealth,
                    which gives him independence and security.  

        By all accounts, the world should be his oyster, right?
            But Jesus puts his finger on the fact that something critical is missing
                in order for the young man to have a genuine relationship with God.
                      Let’s go back to my Gospels professor, Jim Edwards, because
                        he makes a marvelous explanation of what’s in play here:

The Gospel According to Mark, James Edwards
How profoundly ironic is the kingdom of God. The children in the former story who possess nothing are not told that they lack anything, but rather that the kingdom of God is theirs; yet this man who possesses everything [youth, vigor, money, moral rectitude] still lacks something! Only when he sells all he has — only when he becomes like a vulnerable child — will he possess everything. To the question what the man must do to inherit life in the future (v. 17), Jesus directs him to the present. He must do something now. His full adherence to the moral law, good and necessary as it is, is no substitute for following Jesus. The question about the law, in other words, is answered with reference to a relationship with Jesus! True obedience to the law can be rendered only in discipleship to Jesus, and unless obedience to the law leads to discipleship with Jesus it is incomplete and futile. In following Jesus the man “will have treasure in heaven” (v. 21). Jesus offers himself as a substitute for the man’s possessions.#

“Jesus offers himself as a substitute for the man’s possessions.”
    In the end, this blessed young man wants the blessing
        more than he wants the Blesser.  He feels so blessed in this life,
            he just wants to carry what he already has on into eternity.  
                But he’s missed the most important good of all,
                    and it’s staring him right in the face:
                        “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

Notice Jesus’ odd first response to the young man’s initial question:

Mark 10:17-18

17 … “Good teacher,” [the young man] asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

    18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.”

That’s sort of an odd way to respond, isn’t it?  
    Jesus ignores the question and questions the compliment.  
        Jesus isn’t being eccentric and prickly.
    It’s helpful to know that at Jesus’ time amongst the Jews,
        “good” was an adjective, a description, that was generally reserved for God.#
            So right from the beginning of the conversation,
                Jesus is apparently trying to get the young man’s eyes off himself
                    “What must I do to inherit eternal life”—and onto God.  
                           
    God truly is good, and He’s the only true good.
        Nothing answers our deepest need except God, the one great good
            of our life—now, and into eternity.  Any substitute is an idol.
                And we have thousands of them.  Money just happens to
                    be the biggest one in many cases.

        Look at what Jesus says to the young man because of his
            love for him, not in his disdain of him in verse 21:

Mark 10:21

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”


Jesus knew that as good as this young man’s life was on so many levels,
    he was missing the greatest good of all:  a genuine relationship with God.
        I wonder to what degree the young man understood what was in play?
            He was one of those exquisitely rare individuals in human history
                who had had the opportunity to walk with God right here on
                    earth in the flesh-and-blood person of Jesus Christ.  
                       
    The opportunity was standing right in front of him,
        inviting him to come along.  But rather than walk fully with God,
            he choose to cling to what he knew—the security he had in his wealth.

        What’s blocking your way to walking wholeheartedly with God?
            What do you resist letting go of that’s keeping you from walking
                in close, daily companionship with Him?  

  • Maybe, as with the young man, it’s money.       
  • Maybe it’s a job and the security or prestige it brings.
  • Maybe it’s a recreation or a sport.
  • Maybe it’s parenting—being an uber mom or dad.  “There’s no sacrifice too great for my kids.”
  • Maybe it’s a grudge you’re nursing, and you refuse to forgive.  You’re hanging onto your right to justice because it somehow feels good to nurse the wound.
  • Maybe it’s an addiction: substance abuse, sexual gratification, workaholism, or even the excessive pursuit of physical fitness.
  • Maybe it’s trying to be better than everyone else, being a Pharisee.  Your secret ambition is to be Betty Betterthanthou of the 1st Church of the Self-Righteous.
  • Maybe it’s just plain laziness.  It’s easier to veg behind the TV than read God’s love letter to you, which we call the Bible.   

                   
I could go on … but is anybody feeling the pinch here besides me?  
    You’ll know when God puts His finger on the impediment,
        because you’ll probably respond much like the rich young man in verse 22.

Mark 10:22

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.


The Greek word [stygnazō] underlying our translation that his “face fell” indicates
    that he was shocked and appalled.


ILL: I see it whenever I have someone in my office
    wanting biblical answers to some pressing personal problem,
        and they’re suddenly appalled by a clear biblical instruction.
            “What? God couldn’t possibly want me to do that!
                Nobody does that anymore; this is the 21st century!”



    We want things on our terms. We want to be in control.  
        And we often walk away from God, face fallen,
            when we discover God wants something different for us than we want.
           
        That’s particularly true when His instructions seem crazy or ridiculous
            in light of our present lifestyle and culture.

            The rich young man’s culture saw him as being very blessed.
                Wealth was viewed as a clear sign that God was pleased with you.
                    The young man was amazed at Jesus’ challenge
                        to his status and self-sufficient lifestyle.

                Apparently, the disciples, Jesus’ own close followers, were too.
                    Let’s look again at how they respond to Jesus’ explanation
                        of what had just happened.  Go to verses 23-26:

Mark 10:23-26

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”


Their question gets them and us right where Jesus needs us to be.
    Remember that we started this talk with Jesus blessing children
        and pointing to them as an example of childlike abandon
            in trusting Him and relying on Him.  With that thought in mind,
                look at His answer to the disciples’ question in verse 27:

Mark 10:26-27

26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”


So look at what we’ve come back to: open trust in God and dependence upon Him.
    He’s the answer to our deepest question, our deepest need.
        Life with God now and into eternity is available simply by wanting
            to be with Him and trusting He provides everything necessary
                to make that happen.  


ILL:  In his book, When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box,
    pastor and author John Ortberg gives us this helpful insight
        into what it takes to truly know God:

    My wife and I had been through a busy few weeks:  heavier than usual travel commitments, out-of-town guests staying with us, and some unscheduled complications. So Nancy sat me down and said, “I want to spend the day with you. Just the two of us.”
    It’s a strange thing. There’s no one I enjoy being with more. But because I felt so busy, I made a counteroffer:  “How about if we spend the morning each working on our own tasks and then are together from lunch on?”
    At first she agreed. Then she returned and put her foot (also known as “the hammer”) down:  “No working. No meetings. We’re spending the whole day together; having a great time, or there’s going to be trouble.”
    So we spent the whole day together. We didn’t do anything fancy. We did the things we usually do. We went for a drive, we took a walk, we had lunch, we talked about stuff. It was an ordinary day. And that was just what she wanted to do.
    Do you think Nancy would have been any happier if I had fixed her breakfast in bed, massaged her feet for an hour, brought her flowers, and watched back-to-back episodes of Oprah with her?
    Well, we’ll never know.
    But it struck me that in a sense the story of the Bible is the story of a single desire of God:  the reason God created people is so he could be with us….
    The lonely soul is poor. The “with-God” soul is rich. The reason God made you is because he wants to be with you. And we don’t have to wait. It’s as if each day God is saying, “I’d like to spend this day with you.”#



I think Ortberg’s illustration helps us make sense of something Jesus says next
    in response to a characteristic outburst from Peter.

Mark 10:28-30 [Keep up until “blank screen”]

28 Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”

    Apparently Peter has just put it together that the disciples have already
        cleared the bar that Jesus had just set for the rich young man.
            They had, indeed, given up everything to be with Jesus.
                So Peter’s looking for a little pat on the back for them.
                    Jesus doesn’t hesitate to give it:

29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.”


I suspect Peter responded much as most of us do.  Everything sounds pretty good
    right up to that one little hiccup in there:  “and with them, persecutions.”  
        I’m sure Peter was thinking along with us, “What’s up with that?!”
            [blank screen]

    Jesus has just shown through two living examples with children and then
        the rich young man that the highest good is being with God,
            and therefore being with Him, Jesus, God in the flesh on earth.
                Whatever we have to give up to be with Him will be far surpassed
                    simply by His presence, His intimate relationship with us.
                        Remember what Joe taught us a few weeks back about
                            the Transfiguration:  Jesus is dazzling!

        But there’s a rub while we’re still living on this fallen earth.  
            To be with Jesus, to truly walk with Him, is to face persecution.  
                Jesus doesn’t hide that truth or pull some kind of bait and switch.
                    He’s making it plain here, as He does in other contexts, such as

John 15:20
“Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”

Not everyone, in fact very few, like the idea of needing to be dependent upon God.
    Not everyone wants to embrace God with childlike abandon.
        And this goes for whole cultures as well as individual people.
            When we truly walk with Jesus, we will encounter push back,
                even in our amazingly free nation.  People don’t generally want
                    their own sense of control and of what’s good and right challenged.

    So Jesus is giving us fair warning that even when we’re walking closely
        with Him, in this earthly life we’ll still face problems, even persecution.
            But even so, His promise still holds.  Let’s pull that startling phrase
                about persecutions from Jesus’ overall promise to ensure we get it:

Mark 10:29-30

29 “I tell you the truth,… no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age … and in the age to come, eternal life.”


The Psalms lead us to rightly sing,

    Psalm 84:10-11

10    Better is one day in your courts

than a thousand elsewhere;

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God

than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

11    For the Lord God is a sun and shield;

the Lord bestows favor and honor;

no good thing does he withhold

from those whose walk is blameless.

What we’ve just learned from these two stories in Mark is that walking
    blamelessly is not about just keeping a set of rules.
        The rich young man already did that—apparently quite well.
            But he still missed having a genuine relationship with God.

    Walking with God is about abandoning yourself to Him like a child.
        It’s about recognizing your need and desire for Him in every
            aspect of your life, and trusting Him to love you and guide you.

    When we come to Him like that, He works in our lives to make us
        everything He created us to be.  When we come to Jesus, He changes us.
            And that’s not just a one-time deal; it’s daily.
                It’s because Jesus is in the transformation business that He
                    challenges our ability to judge who’s acceptable to God.
                        We really don’t know who will see Him and find Him dazzling
                            and find wholeness as God’s child in the process.

    Jesus closes His experience with the rich young man by observing in verse 31,

Mark 10:31
“But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

The children were viewed as last on the societal food chain;  
    the rich young man—a young, moral, prosperous male—first.
       
    But looks can be deceiving.  Those who respond to God with
        the eager abandonment of a child,
            those who know they need Him and want Him,
                those are the ones who will be close to Him,
                    the first in the Kingdom of God.

Let’s pray.  [Standard invitation to salvation during prayer.]

By | 2017-03-24T16:05:05+00:00 July 8th, 2012|Follow the Leader, Sermons|Comments Off on Childlike Abandon vs. Adult Reservation