The Book of Mark
THE DANGER OF TRUSTING IN RICHES
Text: MARK 10:23-31
1. We left off last time with the sad story of the rich young ruler.
2. I say “sad” because Mark 10:22 says, “And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.”
3. Apparently, this rich young ruler put his wealth above God, and that is very sad.
4. He probably died and went to hell, and that is indescribably sad! To be so close to salvation, and then to walk away from it. That is very sad indeed.
5. Someone once said: “Money will buy a bed, but it cannot buy sleep. Money will buy food, but it cannot buy an appetite. Money will buy medicine, but it cannot buy good health. Money will buy a house, but it cannot buy a home. Money will buy a diamond ring, but it cannot buy love. Money will buy a church pew, but it cannot buy salvation.”
6. After the rich young ruler walked away grieved, our Lord said, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God… Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:23-25).
I. AN IMPOSSIBLE SITUATION (10:24, 25).
1. Our Lord said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (10:25).
2. D. Edmond Hiebert said this was “a bold comparison that indicates an utter impossibility” (The Gospel of Mark).
3. Before we assume that this means it is impossible for a rich man to be saved, we have to understand the context. Our Lord is talking about rich people “that trust in riches” (10:24).
4. We are all familiar with Joseph of Arimathaea, the rich man who went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission, and so Joseph took our Lord’s body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and buried it in his own new tomb (Matthew 27).
5. We can look forward to seeing Joseph of Arimathaea in heaven.
6. In fact, there are several notable rich people in the Bible who were godly believers. The LORD said to Satan in Job 1:8, “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?”
7. And Job was very wealthy. Job 1:3 says, “This man was the greatest (wealthiest) of all the men of the east.”
8. Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, accused Job of being a religious hypocrite who worshipped gold. But in Job 31:24, Job defended himself against these untrue accusations and stated that he had never made gold his hope, or had said to the fine gold, “Thou art my confidence.”
9. In Job 31:25, Job insisted that he had never rejoiced because his wealth was great.
10. Job was wealthy, but he understood, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Tim. 6:10).
11. There were wealthy Christians who supported evangelists of the past like Charles Finney and DL Moody, just as there are some wealthy Christians today who are generous givers.
12. The problem is not money, but our attitude toward money. Money can be used to build churches, and support missionaries, and print Bibles and tracts, and provide food for the hungry, etc.
13. The problem is many people tend to be covetous and materialistic (cf. I Tim. 6:9).
14. We are told that our Lord’s statement in Mark 10:25 was “a popular proverb denoting something impossible,” and that the “Babylonian Talmud twice mentions an elephant passing through the eye of an needle as an impossibility” (Hiebert).
15. Furthermore, later on the statement was quoted in the Koran.
16. AB Bruce wrote that, “proverbs about the camel and the needle-eye, to express the impossible, are still current among the Arabs” (The Expositor’s Greek NT).
II. WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE
1. The apostles were astonished at our Lord’s warning about the danger of riches. “And they were astonished out of measure…” (10:26a).
2. Matthew 19:25 says, “They were exceedingly amazed.”
3. They asked, “Who then can be saved?” (10:26b).
4. Their amazement proves that the Lord was speaking of a literal camel going through a literal eye of a needle. Many have tried to diminish the impact of our Lord’s warning by explaining that “the eye of a needle” refers to an arched gateway through which a camel had to bend low in order to pass through.
5. The Scofield Study Bible refers to this theory. “It has been thought the reference here was to a postern door set in a gate of Jerusalem” (p. 1059).
6. But if our Lord were referring to a camel bending down to squeeze through a small gateway, His disciples would not be “exceedingly amazed” and “astonished out of measure.”
7. Watching someone straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel (Matt. 23:24) might be quite a spectacle, but seeing a camel squeeze through a small gate is not a big deal!
8. “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (10:27).
9. Nothing is too hard for God.
10. The LORD said to Abraham, “Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son” (Gen. 18:14).
11. The angel Gabriel said to Mary, “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).
12. In Mark 14:36, Jesus prayed to God the Father and said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee.”
13. Jeremiah 32:17 says, “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.”
14. Jesus said to the man with the demon-possessed son, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).
15. Our Lord said to His disciples in Matthew 17:20, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
16. Think of all these wonderful promises!
III. THE BLESSINGS THAT FOLLOW OBEDIENCE
1. Peter spoke out, “Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee” (Mark 10:28). In other words – in contrast to the rich young ruler – “we have left all, and have followed thee.”
2. The words “left all” and “followed” indicate obedience to the Lord’s call.
3. Our Lord’s response to Peter emphasizes spiritual blessings, not material blessings (10:29, 30).
4. The emphasis in the Bible is always on spiritual blessings, though these often include material blessings as well.
5. Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
6. “But he shall receive an hundredfold” (10:30) – the highest degree of return.
7. He may lose his brothers and sisters, but the Lord will give him many more brothers and sisters in Christ (10:29, 30).
8. Interestingly, our Lord refers to “persecutions” (10:30) as part of the blessings and rewards received (cf. Matthew 5:11, 12; Luke 6:22, 23; Acts 5:41; II Cor. 12:10; I Peter 4:12, 13).
9. James 1:2 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.”
10. “But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time” (10:30) – the rewards begin “now in this time.”
11. “And in the world to come eternal life” (10:30b) refers to the “age” to come, i.e., the coming millennial kingdom. Thank God there will be no persecutions then.
12. Our Lord’s words in Mark 10:31 remind us that in His kingdom, the first are often last, and the last are often first.
13. In the world people are always striving to be number one, but that is not God’s way (cf. Mark 10:35-45).
1. Friday night we went to hear an evangelist preach on revival.
2. After the meeting I was talking to a preacher friend and he said one of the reasons why we are not seeing revival is unbelief, and he quoted Mark 10:27 – “With God all things are possible” (10:27).
3. Jesus said in Matthew 17:20, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”