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Jesus, the Servant

Mark 10: Rich Young Ruler

Postby Google » Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:04 pm

So, the tale of the rich young man - I think it ends ambiguously, do the rich go to heaven? Do they go to a lesser heaven? When some receive 100 fold of what other's receive what does that mean?
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Re: Mark 10: Rich Young Ruler

Postby jimwalton » Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:04 pm

The point is not the money gets you to heaven or keeps you out of it, but rather that you deny yourself and follow Jesus.

In those days, people considered wealth to be the blessing of God. And they also thought that being good would get them to heaven. Jesus flushes both of those ideas.

For this man, his money was a source of rank. He would get to heaven on his own merits. Jesus is saying no one gets to heaven on their own merits, but by God's grace alone. The expectation of the rich young ruler, and therefore of us, is not "to sell everything you have and give it to the poor," but to die to everything in your life. Paul says the same thing: "I consider everything to be rubbish" (Phil. 3.8). You can have things, but keep an open hand. Nothing matters. We’re made to cling to things, but God is what we’re supposed to cling to.

Jesus didn't say it was impossible for rich people to get into heaven, but that it's hard. Gould comments, "He has gone along through life, choosing purity instead of lust, honesty instead of fraud, truth instead of falsehood, but in all this he had not been called upon to make the supreme choice, his wealth had not stood in the way. But now he is confronted with the wisdom that is able to show him what is for him the supreme good, and there wealth gets in its deadly work. The lower good proves to be stronger than the higher, and the latter is set aside. There is the difficulty; the kingdom of God does not consist in the practice of this or that separate virtue, but in the choice of the highest good, which regulates individual acts; and wealth has the power, beyond most other things, of making itself appear the greatest good."

> Do they go to a lesser heaven?

There is no lesser heaven, but there are different degrees of reward in heaven. Heaven is not based on good works. It's not good people who go to heaven, but those who have the nature of Jesus in them rather than the nature of sin. But for those going to heaven, they will be assessed according to their stewardship of what God gave them, and there will be different degrees of reward.

> When some receive 100 fold of what other's receive what does that mean?

100-fold is a large return. Relationships in the family of God, and being united with other believers in the Spirit, supersede those of being united with other by blood heritage.

God is not in the business of deprivation and separation, but in blessing. If you've sacrificed for God, he won't leave you hanging. There will be payback, recompense, balance, and blessing.
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Re: Mark 10: Rich Young Ruler

Postby Google » Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:41 am

> He would get to heaven on his own merits. Jesus is saying no one gets to heaven on their own merits, but by God's grace alone.

Seems to be contradicted by the words of Jesus: "If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
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Re: Mark 10: Rich Young Ruler

Postby jimwalton » Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:41 am

Great question. We have to look at the whole forest, not just one leaf. Mark has been making a point over the course of a number of chapters that mere good works doesn't cut it.

    * Mark 7.1-23: The heart matters, not just obeying the commandments and living by the traditions. "It is what comes out of a man that mess him unclean" (v. 16).
    * Mk. 7.24-30: The crux is the heart, not the rituals. Even a Gentile woman could show faith and receive blessing.
    * Mk. 7.31-37: The point is that people with ears have not understood. The people of the Law have rejected him, but whoever will HEAR and DO is the true person of God.
    * Mk. 8.1-13: Jesus gives a great sign from heaven, and the Pharisees then ask for a sign. How blind are they? Obedience to the Law has not brought them into relationship with God or led them to eternal life.
    * Mk. 8.14-21: Jesus rebukes even his own disciples for hardness of heart: eyes that fail to see, ears that fail to hear. The signs are clear that eternal life is found in relationship with Jesus alone, not by keeping the Law. "Beware the yeast of the Pharisees."
    * Mk. 8.22-26: Jesus heals a blind man as a living parable that He can open the eyes of the blind. It's a physical event with a spiritual message.
    * Mk. 8.31-9.1: Jesus is the Christ (vv. 31-9.1). It is those who follow him who find eternal life.
    * Mk. 9.2-13: Coming right after the recognition of who Jesus really is, it is now shown what he is here to do: reveal God, suffer and die, and rise from the dead. This is where eternal life is found. This message is authenticated by God the Father. The story is dripping with all kinds of symbolism
    * Mk. 9.14-32: What follows now is a series of discipleship training episodes—what it really means to be a follower of Jesus who will inherit eternal life. Here the message is FAITH.
    * Mk. 9.33-37: Here the message is HUMILITY
    * Mk. 9.38-41: Here the message is LIVE AND ACT IN THE NAME OF JESUS
    * Mk. 9.42-50:Here the message is GET RID OF OBSTACLES to a relationship with Jesus. And DON'T BE AN OBSTACLE TO SOMEONE ELSE.
    * Mk. 10.1-12: They try to trap him with the minutia of the Law. Jesus will not be trapped. It's not about the Law but rather about the intent of God (vv. 5ff.) behind the Law.
    * Mk. 10.13-16: Children pose the perfect illustration of what Jesus has been saying. Those who inherit eternal life are humble, receptive, trusting, teachable, dependent, loving, and obedient.

And so we come to the tale of the rich young man. "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" In other words, "What works are necessary"? Sigh. Jesus has been answering this question over and over. So first Jesus questions whether he understands goodness, which the man does not. His reply is subtle but clear: heaven is not earnable; your goodness doesn't and can't cut it. It's not about goodness.

Jesus rolls through some of the commandments, particularly the ones that relate to how people treat people. (Notice he hasn't mentioned the ones about a person's relationship to God, the first 4 commandments).

The man seems pleased. He's been a good guy. Jesus doesn't knock that, but it has no value as far as securing eternal life. There is nothing in keeping the commandments (being good) that works in your favor for salvation. You can score all the touchdowns you want while you're playing sandlot football, but it doesn't count for anything unless you're on the team in the stadium. Jesus has been hammering away at this point for chapters now. Now Jesus has to move this man to understanding that.

The man thinks that his wealth (blessing), influence and position (blessing), Jewishness (advantage), and lawfulness (earning his way) are going to do it for him. It's a great temptation to trust in possessions, status, and privilege.

The man's shortcomings are great. He has not really obeyed the commandments, because he had excess while others were poor. He lacked self-denial and self-sacrificing devotion. He was expected to die to everything in his life and follow Jesus (Mk. 8.34-37).

In other words, in the Matthew text (the one you quoted, Matthew 19.17), Jesus is leading him into truth one step at a time. When the man answers (Mt. 19.18-20), Jesus uses that as a launch point to take him further and deeper. Matthew's flow of logic and structure are similar enough to Mark's (I used Mark because of the OP) that you get the idea. We can't just pull out one portion of one verse and think we understand what's happening. There's a whole flow here. And the man had obviously had some exposure to the teachings of Jesus (he has heard other things, not just this) because of the way he approaches and addresses Jesus. We are not to think this story exists in a vacuum.
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Re: Mark 10: Rich Young Ruler

Postby Google » Tue Sep 04, 2018 5:43 pm

So what of the goats and the sheep?
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Re: Mark 10: Rich Young Ruler

Postby jimwalton » Sat Sep 29, 2018 5:56 am

The goats and the sheep (Mt. 25.31-46) is a good passage and an important one. But to understand what the Bible is saying about a subject we have to consider all of what the Bible is saying about a subject, not just what it says in one or two places.

The meaning of the story is multiple:

1. The cost of discipleship: Expect hunger, thirst, prison, and sickness
2. Commpassion for our fellow humans: We are responsible to care for our fellow believers who suffer.
3. The way we treat people is an indicator of our love for God. "To rob widows and orphans is to rob God."
4. Acts of charity are a spiritual value. Charity is an essential part of Christian morality.
5. People who are going to heaven by virtue of their relationship with Jesus will receive rewards commensurate with their good works for God. People who are not going to heaven will receive punishments commensurate with their deeds.
6. God expects us to act with justice.
7. Failing to do good is as deplorable as doing harm.

But this is not the only story in the Bible about heaven and eternal life. It's one of many, and we have to look at all of what the Bible is saying to know all of what the Bible is saying. It is contrary to the Bible to think one can be saved and secure in eternal life by being kind to the poor.

There are disagreements about who "all the nations" are:

    * All the Gentiles
    * The whole world
    * Anyone who is not a believer in Jesus
    * Only Christians

It's actually a difficult story to interpret well. In any case, however, we don't conclude that this is do-all and end-all about how to inherit eternal life.


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