“Receive, Leave, and Cleave” Jesus Shocking Teaching on the Nature of God’s Kingdom
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Mark 10.13-31
We are in Mark chapter 10. Let me remind us that Mark structures 8:27 to 10:52 around 3 predictions by Jesus of His death and resurrection. After each time Jesus predicts his death and resurrection, the disciples misunderstand. And after each misunderstanding, Jesus gives a very serious and specific call to discipleship. Prediction, misunderstanding of that prediction, then a call to discipleship. For example after the prediction of His death and resurrection at the end of chapter 8, the disciples misunderstood, and then Jesus gave a serious call for those who are wishing to come after him, that they take up their cross and follow him.
And after a serious call to discipleship, Mark has somewhat of an intermission before Jesus again predicts his death and resurrection. At the beginning of chapter 9, the intermission between the two predictions is the Transfiguration and the healing of the demon possessed boy. And Mark’s point, as we saw, was to show us that we should be depending on the messianic King in cosmic conflict.
And then beginning in chapter 9:30, we have the second prediction of Jesus’ death and resurrection. What we found at the end of chapter 9, were three hindrances to saving faith. The last one was the most graphic, which was Jesus calling for radical spiritual amputation. “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off.” And we saw that Jesus was teaching repentance in that statement and similar statements. Unless you deal with your sin in the serious manner that Jesus is calling for, you won’t enter into everlasting life or the kingdom of God. Make a radical break from anything that would keep you from receiving Christ.
Now, in chapter 10, we’re in another intermission. But in each intermission, we’re not totally separated from the topic of discipleship. Jesus gives special attention to His disciples in each intermission. The main topic of each passage has something to do with discipleship.
And it’s no different this morning. Mark 10:1-31 is all about discipleship.
There is a phrase in our passage that I think is especially makes this point. It helps us to know that we are on the road of the cross with Jesus! Yes, as we read, we are with Jesus and we are making our way with Him to Jerusalem. And the issue is, you reader of Mark’s gospel, will you die along with him? Will you take up your cross along with Him? That’s the suspense of Mark’s gospel. It’s all about how you, the reader, will respond.
There is a phrase that helps us to have this perception about the passage. It’s found in Mark 10:17. It is the phrase, as it is in the original language anyway, “on the way,” translated “on a journey” in Mark 10:17 (NASB) As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him …
And this phrase, “on a journey,” or “on the road” same Greek expression…this phrase helps orients us concerning the geographical movement of Jesus and the disciples. Where are they on their way to? Wherever they are going, we, too, are “on the way” with them. Look, if you will, at chapter 10:32.
This phrase occurs several times in this section of Mark and we don’t know until verse 32 of chapter 10 what this phrase is attempting to tell us. Here we learn that they are on their way… to Jerusalem for the purpose that Jesus might literally take up his cross. In this verse, it is translated “on the road.”
Mark 10:32 (NASB) They were on the road [and we know now where they are going. They are] going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them;…
This phrase not only orients us geographically, to let us know that Jesus and the disciples are going to Jerusalem. This phrase also is repeated throughout this last half of Mark to symbolize of the very nature of discipleship itself.
Recall how this section, from 8:27 to 10:52, started. It started with Jesus issuing the call that we should take up our cross and follow him. And we noted together that this means we should be willing to lose our lives and desires for the sake of Jesus and the gospel.
And now it says that Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem, where, of course, He will literally take up the cross. And as we read, others are approaching Jesus on this road of discipleship …this road that is on the way to taking up the cross. And it is symbolic. It’s historical, of course, too, but in Mark’s historical account of Jesus life, he wants us to picture ourselves as being led along in the story to the point of the cross where Jesus dies. And this whole story is focused on that event and the whole point is that we picture ourselves on the way to Jerusalem and the question is as we’re going, “will we take up the cross like Jesus? Will we die to self for His sake?”
Will you join him; will you join him on the way of the cross? Even if Jesus’ demands on your life are more difficult than you would like to bear, are you willing to take up the cross and lose your life, plans, ambitions and wishes for the sake of Jesus and his gospel?
Well, in chapter 10:1-31, there are 3 sections and each is meant to be shocking. Jesus’ teaching in each section shocked, both the social and economic, assumptions of the day. And in these 3 sections, Jesus is teaching on the nature of God’s Kingdom.
The first social shock was His teaching on divorce and remarriage, in chapter 10:1-12. We dealt with that a couple of weeks ago. Jesus teaching on that subject is meant to be shocking. Otherwise, His disciples would not have said, Matthew 19:10 … “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” They were shocked that Christ’s kingdom is of such a nature as it concerns marriage.
His second social shock is His illustration with children, in verses 13-16.
Children, in the kingdom of the men of that day, were of the lowest class, merely dependants because of their inabilities. But Jesus angrily responds to the disciple’s dismissal of these children…They tried to prevent the children from coming to Him, but… Mark 10:14 (NASB) …He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
…When He said that, it was shocking. People in high places don’t associate with the lowly. Really, the kingdom belongs to them? Of what worth are toddler’s in our society, let alone the kingdom of God? But in God’s kingdom, this is how it works: the lowliest are equal with the highest in society.
Marriage, children, and now His third shocking teaching regarding the nature of the kingdom of God, is not social, but economic. He deals with wealth in verses 17-31.
Wealth, for the Jews of the day, was a sign of God’s blessing and favor on someone. That’s crucial to understand. Wealth was a sign of divine favor to the Jews. So, when Jesus responds as He does Mark 10:23 …, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”
It was shocking…In the minds of those listening that day, the rich went from being the epitome of having favor with God to the totally opposite end of the spectrum… of being the epitome of the most likely not to have God’s favor.
So, we have Jesus’ shocking teaching concerning the nature of God’s Kingdom. Now, this passage is all about discipleship and eternal life. We come to understand that the passage concerns becoming a disciple and eternal life quite simply by merely surveying the different phrases that discuss these issues. For example look at Mark 10:14. At the end of the verse, note the phrase “the kingdom of God.” What kind of people characterize the kingdom of God? That is addressed here.
Verse 15 we’re talking about those who “receive the kingdom of God” like a child as well as those who “enter” it. Both of those phrases in verse 15, “receiving the kingdom of God” and “entering it.” The next story the rich man asks Jesus about what it takes to… end of verse 17… “inherit eternal life.” That’s what’s under discussion, inheriting eternal life.
Verse 21, same topic, in the verse, we’re talking about “treasure in heaven.” And the phrase of discipleship there at the very end of verse 21, “Come, follow me.”
Verse 23 keeps us on the same track when Jesus discusses the difficulty of those who are wealthy, end of verse 23, to “enter into the kingdom of God.” Same phrase of the end of verse 24, “to enter the kingdom of God.” Same thing in verse 25, end of the verse, “to enter the kingdom of God.”
The disciples are amazed and they’re asking a question that relates directly to this same topic in verse 26, “then who can be saved?” They heard the call of discipleship, verse 28, and left everything and followed Christ. And verse 30 at the end of the verse, Jesus again focuses in on this issue of receiving “in the age to come eternal life.”
So, the passage is all about inheriting eternal life and becoming a disciple of Christ; treasure in heaven and following Jesus; receiving the kingdom of God, leaving everything, and cleaving to Jesus, all set in the backdrop of Jesus shocking teaching concerning the nature of the kingdom of God. So, I’d like to preach then on “Receive, Leave, and Cleave” Jesus Shocking Teaching on the Nature of God’s Kingdom
TRANS: And the story of Jesus and the children is set in stark contrast to the story of the rich young ruler. We know this man is rich from verse 22, that he owned “much property.” What the children possess in verses 13-16 is what the rich young ruler forsakes in verses 17-31 and it is the very thing that is required for eternal life.
The Kingdom is Characterized by the Nature of Children (Mark 10:13-16)
We’re focused first on verses 13-16, where we have an illustration concerning those kinds of people that characterize the kingdom of God as well as the manner in which the kingdom of God is received. How would you describe the people in God’s kingdom? What kind of heart attitude does it take to be a part of the kingdom of God? This is what is addressed in verses 13-16.
Today, our culture regards affection and tender care towards children as virtuous. Relief organizations tug at your heart by flaunting images of hungry children in the midst of war-torn societies in Third World countries. Politicians gain popularity and new Popes receive praise for their embrace of little children and the disabled.
But not so in ancient Israel. In ancient Jewish society, children were not well thought of. Childhood was a necessary evil from birth until the age of 13. A male child was considered more of a blessing because they could continue the family for another generation as well as increase the labor force. But in no sense were children considered to be any type of example.
And so, Mark 10:13, unnamed individuals from the crowd were bringing children to Jesus so that he might touch them. But the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus observed the disciples rebuke, Mark records, verse 14, that Jesus was indignant. Jesus was angry. Jesus was upset that they were preventing children from coming to Him. He says Mark 10:14, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to [or, better here…is characterized by] such as these.
Jesus’ point is not to say that people who are like children own the kingdom of God. The word “belong” there gives us that perception. “Belong” is an interpretation. Literally, it says, “for the kingdom of God is of such a kind as this.” So the kingdom of God is of such a kind as this, or the kingdom of God is characterized by whatever characterizes these children, is Jesus’ point.
Jesus goes on to explain what he means by the kingdom of God being characterized by children in verse 15. He says Mark 10:15 (NASB) “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
And then Jesus tenderly embraces these children in Mark 10:16 by taking them in his arms and blessing them and laying his hands upon them.
Within God’s kingdom, His people can be characterized by being similar to children. The kingdom of God is characterized by such people like children, Jesus says. The reason for that is because of the way people receive the kingdom of God. You receive the kingdom of God like a child. Because of the very fact that you receive the kingdom of God like a child… Because of that fact, now God’s kingdom is full of people characterized by children.
What does it mean then to receive the kingdom of God like a child? First, the kingdom of God, heaven, being saved, eternal life, all of these being of the same kind of concept of having life in the age to come, must be received. Notice verse 15, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” Eternal life must be received. And of course, that eliminates the Catholic teaching of earning the grace that leads to eternal life, as they teach. This eliminates self-effort and hard work and hoping against hope that you’ll make it in the end. No, no, eternal life is received. Will you receive it?
And to receive it, secondly, it must be received in the same manner as a child would receive something. This of course goes against our very nature. We feel like we have to “earn our keep” or we say that that man is “worth his salt.” Our nature is to work for something so precious. Like a child, your inabilities and your lack of status are truly your greatest assets. “The first shall be last, the last first.” “Without Me, you can do nothing,” Jesus says. It is only when you understand that, that you may receive eternal life in the manner that does, in fact, receive it. It’s only when, like a child, you trustingly depend on the only one who can give you what you want.
And like a father to his daughter, there is no earning of a relationship. What kind of dad would require works for her to have his love? Can a son secure the devotion of his mother through his abilities? The father gives to the child this relationship and the child receives it. Like a child then, receive eternal life from the Heavenly Father. Humbly and with submitted dependence, recognize that you are and have nothing of worth to bring to Him.
And if you would, Jesus, like verse 16 says, will take you into His arms and bless you. So, merely receive Christ’s kingdom.
TRANS: Now, we’ll transition into the next story and as we do were transitioning out of the lowliest of that society, in the previous story, to the highest in that society. We’re moving from children to the rich. The lowest in society know that they are in great need and they are the example of how to receive and entertain to Christ’s kingdom. The rich, the highest in society, don’t have this great need. And so, though the lowest in society have nothing, they also have nothing that would prevent them from entering into Christ’s kingdom humbly and with great dependence and trust, recognizing that they have nothing are nothing before him. However, the highest in society, the rich, they have everything. But they also have everything that would keep them from entering into Christ’s kingdom humbly and with great dependence and trust while recognizing their need. So we have a great contrast between these two stories. In the one, their lack is their greatest gain. In the other, their assets is their greatest liabilities.
What little children have, the rich young ruler does not have. And that’s the difference between heaven and hell. So we learned about receiving eternal life. In this next story, we will learn about the need to leave everything and to cleave to Christ.
And keep in mind that in the background to this story is Jesus defining the social and economic structure of his kingdom. In His kingdom, the lowliest of society tend to nurture the greatest and necessary virtues of receiving something and doing so like a child. And so the last like this, like a child, are first. And so if a king were to walk into this building, he would be treated no different than any of us. Though he have a high place in this society, for him to be great in Christ’s kingdom as represented in this local church, he would have to become like a child. There are no politics, status symbols, or high positions in Christ’s church. That’s socially.
Economically, now in our next story, it’s different as well. Here’s the difference: the rich don’t get richer at the expense of the poor in Christ’s kingdom like they do often times in the kingdoms of men. Within the kingdom of God, God’s people share with those who have need. And that of course runs completely contrary to the disciple’s understanding of how an economy works. That’s all in the background of our story, as we’ll see. In the foreground of our story, Jesus is dealing with the rich young ruler and what’s preventing him from receiving eternal life.
What he is unwilling to do is what we are required to do and that is to leave everything and cleave to Christ. And again, our understanding of this passage must be drawn from our understanding of the background of this passage. We’ll see that as we work through the passage.
Leave Everything; Cleave to Christ (Mark 10:17-31)
As they are, verse 17 now, setting out on a journey, that is, they are on the way to Jerusalem… here we are with Jesus and the disciples. As they are on their way to Jerusalem, a man runs up to Jesus and kneels down before him and asks a very sincere question.
“Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Christ’s answer is specifically geared toward his audience, this rich man…this rich man whose whole mindset is governed by a worldly thinking about money and wealth. How would you evangelize this kind of person? Jesus calls this man to repentance, like He would anyone else. But Jesus calls him to adopt the money mindset of the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of men.
So, in verses 17-22 Jesus’ answer to what must a covetous person do to inherit eternal life is this: Repent of the covetousness-inducing economics of the kingdoms of this world and receive the generosity-inducing economics of the kingdom of God. REPEAT
But first, when the rich man asks Jesus, “Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responds first in verse 18, “why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
And one wonders why Jesus starts here. The reason he starts here is because Jesus wants to see if this man really believes that. Will this man pass the test that only God is the one who is good? And the man, as we’ll see, will not pass the test. Jesus says, “Okay, let me test you out on whether or not you believe that only God is good.
Verse 19, how about the Commandments? You know these Commandments.
‘DO NOT MURDER (that’s the 6th of the 10 commandments), DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY (that’s #7), DO NOT STEAL (#8), DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS (#9), Do not defraud…?… (…wait, where’s that? Deut. 24:14…we’ll come back to that…keep going ), HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (that’s back up to #5 of the Law).’ ” So, we have 5, 6, 7, 8, 9…and this random one from Deut 24:14. Anyway, why does Jesus say this in verse 19?
Jesus is attempting to get the man lost, before he gets him saved. You can’t save someone who does not think they are lost. You can’t save someone from their sin, if they do not believe they are a sinner. So Jesus first deals with the man’s perception of his own sin. So Jesus in verse 19 is not teaching salvation by works. “How do I inherit eternal life?” Jesus is not answering this question by saying in verse 19 that you must keep the commandments. Jesus merely states here, “you know the commandments” and then he lists those in order to see if the man will respond that only God is good. And this man does respond that not only does he know the Commandments, but he claims that he has also kept all of them!
Verse 20, “and he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” So the man does not pass Jesus’ test to see if he believes that only God is good, from verse 18. Nope, this man also claims to be good! “Teacher, I’m good, I’ve kept all these things from my youth until now.”
This man evidently amassed good works like he did his wealth. And plus, to the Jews again, this man’s wealth was evidence that he had received great favor from God. He is keeping the Commandments and he is rich, so from the Jew’s standpoint, this is the kind of guy that is going to “make it in the end.” But the kingdom of God is not about “making it in the end.” You don’t “make in the end” this kingdom. This is not a “making it in the end” kind of a kingdom. That mindset is damnable. God’s kingdom is one that is received and requires becoming like a child; it is not performance-based.
The guy hopes to make it because he has kept the Commandments that Jesus listed in verse 19. One of those Commandments was, at the end of verse 19, “do not defraud.” We noted that this is from Deuteronomy 24:14 which says… “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your countrymen or one of your aliens who is in your land in your towns.
So when Jesus says “Do not defraud,” it would immediately conjure up images in the minds of his hearers of the wealth of the elite, their greed and land acquisition as well as the abuse of the common workers.
You see, what would happen in this part of the ancient world during this time is that a land owner would borrow money from the wealthy if his land failed to produce enough to sustain him and his family. If there were too many unfruitful years, his debt to the wealthy would lead to his foreclosure. This would then make him merely a hired hand for the rich on what used to be his own property. And what would happen is that the rich would fail to pay these workers what was rightfully theirs. They earned their wages, but the rich don’t pay them. The rich were defrauding these people.
That is how the economy worked in those days. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer and wealth, therefore, like it is today, is something to cling to for the sake of one’s own personal betterment, at the expense often times, of the poor. And Jesus in verse 21 is about to call upon this man to repent of that worldly mindset about wealth and to adopt the mindset of the kingdom of God about wealth.
Jesus, verse 21, knows this man and loves this man. Mark 10:21 (NASB) Looking at [or scrutinizing him. Jesus knows this man’s heart, is the idea. Jesus looks into him and], Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
And I hasten to clarify, that Jesus is not teaching here that if you sell everything and give all your money to the poor you will have treasure in heaven. Although, at first glance it seems to be saying that. Jesus knows this man’s heart and his worldly mindset about money and he calls on this man to come and follow Him. What Jesus is doing in verse 21 is this: Jesus is using the economics of the kingdom of heaven as a test to see whether or not this rich man is willing to forsake the covetousness-inducing economics of the kingdoms of this world. Will this man refuse eternal life by clinging to the covetousness as it’s found in this world’s economic system? Verse 21 is a test of repentance.
That’s what is going on here. And for some reason, people are more willing to take this verse physically/literally, thinking they will earn eternal life if they give everything away, but these same people are not taking other of Jesus’ teachings physically/literally as it concerns eternal life. For example, it’s only the odd person who believes that physically taking up your cross earns you eternal life. As if physical self-crucifixion merits entrance into the kingdom of God. It does not. When Jesus says, Mark 9:43 (NASB) “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,
Nobody physically cuts off their hands and thinks they will receive eternal life. No one takes that literally/physically. And we ought not take Jesus physically/literally here, either. Jesus’ point, again, is to use the economics of the kingdom of heaven as a test to see whether or not this rich man is willing to forsake the covetousness-inducing economics of the kingdoms of this world. Will this man refuse eternal life because he clings to the covetousness as it’s found in this world’s economic system?
And so, by saying this in verse 21, Jesus tests the man on the 10th commandment, “do not covet.” Jesus listed the five, six, seven, eight, and nine commandments in verse 19 and here in verse 21 is the 10th commandment.
So, if Jesus is calling for a turning away from the economics of this world, that made rich richer and induced covetous…every man for himself!…., then what are the economics of the kingdom of God, to which we are all called? It’s what we find in the early church, as recorded in Acts 2:44-45 (NASB) 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
In effect then in verse 21 of Mark 10, Jesus is asking the rich young ruler, “will you follow me knowing right well that in order to support other followers of Christ who have genuine need, you must be willing to sell your property and possessions.” That is radical kingdom living. Are you willing to turn and help support those in Christ’s kingdom when there is a need? That is a shocking statement to anyone that is so accustomed to the economics of that age, or of this age! Support people in God’s kingdom who are not my family? Help out financially other believers who are in need?
That is what Jesus is demanding. Will you radically reorient your thinking concerning the role of wealth and possessions in His kingdom? Is wealth a vehicle for your own pleasure? Or is wealth a vehicle for the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom? That is a true test of discipleship, especially in our day and age, where cash is king. Christ demands that everything you possess be considered a mere vehicle for the furtherance of his kingdom and vehicle for the support of those in need in His kingdom. Would you be willing to sell all that you possess in order to give to believers in need?
Well, not this rich young ruler. Verse 22, when Jesus demanded this of him, … “he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.”
And Jesus verse 23, as this rich man walks away from his opportunity of receiving eternal life, Jesus turns now to his disciples and he looks around at them. He looks around at them as if to ask, “will you leave as well?” All of this radical teaching on marriage, that the scum of society get an equal standing with the rich and now this teaching that my wealth is not here for me but is to be used solely for the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom and those in need in Christ’s kingdom…. And now Jesus turns to his disciples “will you leave as well?”
Mark 10:23 (NASB) He says to His disciples… “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”
And this is shocking to the disciples Mark 10:24 (NASB) The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus *answered again and *said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
Not exactly the easy believe-ism of our day, is it? Just bow your head repeat this prayer after me and you’re on your way? I think not. Mark 10:23 (NASB) “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”
Mark 10:24 again…Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
The gospel is simple to understand, but it is hard or difficult to receive. Who would be willing to take up an execution device and take his own life and deny himself and cut off their hands and leave everything that they are, have, and have known for the sake of a shamed, persecuted lowly carpenter…like Jesus is? Not a rich man. “How hard it is for the wealthy to enter God’s kingdom.”
And in case you didn’t understand Christ’s statement in verse 24, he illustrates it in verse 25. Mark 10:25 (NASB) “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.”
The humor of this statement is lost on purpose because of the nature of the topic that we’re dealing with.
And of course the disciples are doubly shocked as it says in Mark 10:26 (NASB) They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?”
So you can see then that we are talking about salvation, eternal life, entering into the kingdom of God. Who can be saved? If this is the case, that the rich are not truly blessed by God, then who can be saved? VERSE 27….
Mark 10:27 (NASB) Looking at them, Jesus *said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
So if you wanted to know how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God… Well, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle… Oh, so you mean then that…yes, that’s right, verse 27, it’s impossible.
What? Impossible? Yes, with people, now. If people are attempting themselves to enter into the kingdom of God, it is impossible. It will not happen. The point is that in people’s own strength, it isn’t possible to enter into the kingdom of God. But with God… If were talking about God’s power and God’s decision and God’s ability within God’s providence, then in that case, all things are possible.
And now Peter pipes up in Mark 10:28 (NASB) Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.”
And of course this harkens back to Jesus requirement in Mark 10:21 (NASB) Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
And Peter is saying that he and the disciples have done that and have followed Jesus. They have done this physically/literally.
Peter and the disciples left their places of employment to follow Jesus. And some of these did so against the will of their families. They had left everything to follow Jesus. And for some, this is still Jesus’ call on their lives today. And Jesus promises in verse 29 that those who do have that call on their life, to do this physically/literally, they will still be supported financially and relationally. Not everyone is called to that. That’s why Jesus can put it the way he does in verse 29
Mark 10:29 (NASB) Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake,
so if that is your case, that you do have to leave a house or relationships or material possessions, like a farm, for the sake of Jesus and his gospel, the way it works in Jesus’ social and economic structure is found in verse 30.
…if that happens to you, that you must make a decisive break with material possessions or relationships, don’t worry, because the nature of the kingdom of God as manifested in the local church that Christ has set up is that if you have to do that then, you “will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.”
So is Jesus promising the health and wealth gospel here? Is Jesus saying that if you follow Jesus, you will be rich? No. Do you want more than one mother? “Mothers” is plural there in that list. It’s not what you’re thinking then. Another reason that we know that Jesus is not promising health and wealth is because of the social economic background we have in this passage. Again, Jesus is teaching the social and economic structure of his kingdom. And in his kingdom, the lowly receive the same standing in the kingdom as the highest society. And of course this is all manifested in the local church. Though the highest political official walks into our assembly, he would have the same position in our assembly as any child would have. There is no political structure in the church. None!
James teaches this in James 2:1-5 (NASB) 1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. 2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3 and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? 5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
It’s the same with economics. In the manifestation of the kingdom of God as we have it in the local church, economics works differently, too. Wealth and possessions is not a vehicle for our own betterment. The money that we have and the stuff that we possess has one purpose of furthering Christ’s kingdom through supporting the needs of those that are in Christ’s kingdom.
With that in mind, that’s exactly what is going on in verse 30. If you have to make a break to follow Christ and leave house or relationships or you have to leave your source of income, if you received Christ and become a true disciple of Christ, then God’s people will receive you and you will experience what the early church did in Acts 2:44-45 (NASB) 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
So someone in our assembly receives Christ at a great cost, either financially or they receive Christ at a great cost relationally, we need to come alongside them and support them relationally and economically. This is what Jesus is teaching. This is exactly what Jesus’ brother James teaches by way of illustration in James 2:15-16 (NASB) 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?”
So if you are truly a disciple of Christ and you have followed after him at a great relational cost, will not your brothers and sisters and mothers and children in Christ be 100 times as much more precious to you than any scoffing family member?
And if someone receives Christ at a great economic cost and they lose their source of income, will not God’s people come alongside such a brother or sister? Of course! And this is exactly what happened to me. Although not a great economic or relational cost, although I did leave my father and my mother and that without knowing my source of income. I left my hometown in Illinois and I was very preciously received in South Carolina when I found a place to stay and a job over the phone in the same day. God’s people came alongside of me and helped me. Some of those people remain very precious today.
And you, too! Me and my family have been received by all of you and you all have helped us out economically and physically and relationally. You all have been a great source of blessing to us. Likewise, you toward one another. I hear stories of how many of you have helped one another relationally, like a brother or a sister or father or a mother. So let us keep that up. We must not get into a situation where our church becomes politically structured like the world is. We must not be giving any power to wealth and possessions other than to the expectation that that wealth and those possessions further the cause of Christ.
In verse 31 sums up exactly what we’ve been saying. Mark 10:31 (NASB) “But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Mark 10.13-31
The last in the societies of this world will be considered the first, because they tend to nurture the very virtues required for salvation, those of need and dependence. And the last in the economies of this world will be considered the first, if they follow Christ at a great cost economically. God will receive them into his kingdom and the local manifestation of his kingdom will be a source of great blessing economically and relationally if we help and sustain one another for the sake of Jesus and his gospel.
And this is all radical teaching. This is the kind of teaching where people would come up afterwards and say… “If you do this and promote this, you’ll have people taking advantage of this church.” Or they will say, “sounds like we’re all going to be living like the Hutterites soon.” If you keep going down this track, that’s what we will all end up being. Of course that’s not what we’re saying. With Jesus’ teaching will always come the wisdom on how to best apply this in each situation. If you come up to me now and you are shocked at this teaching, we nailed the teaching of this passage. The disciples were amazed too.
So, let us focus on being a support to one another in this local manifestation of God’s kingdom.