Jesus Loved Him

Jesus Loved Him: Mark 10:17-22
Pastor John Nicholas
Sunday November 1, 2020

As we come to the scripture today we should watch for contrasts in comparison to last week.  We should think about the words of Mark 10:13-16 about how we should receive the kingdom of God as the little children did.

Jesus Blesses Little Children

13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He would touch them; but the disciples rebuked them.

14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Allow the children to come to Me; do not forbid them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

15 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”

16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

We should think about what that means to receive the kingdom as a child does.  We could possibly hear warnings in these verses today.  We could possibly see ourselves, either now or before, within these words written so long ago.

We should examine ourselves as we exposite these verses.  We should pray to God to allow our hearts to be changed, so that we can hear God’s word.

We should hear these words and recognize them as God’s word to His people and to His church and as such it is of infinite value to us.

We should come to the scripture as the little children in the previous passage.  Listening and desiring to hear God speaking to us through His word.  Trusting that it is His word that leads to changed hearts and saved sinners.


The Rich Young Ruler

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do so that I may inherit eternal life?”

Jesus on the way.  As we have spoken before, Jesus is always on the way.  The way to the cross.  Focused upon the work that will be done there.  Eyes never off the cross.  And this will be a key concept for this section of scripture.  Jesus is approached by a man, of whom no details are given here, who kneels down before Him.

This man, respecting Jesus, in such an obvious/blatant way addresses Him as good teacher (agatha didaskale).  An address that is unheard of in Jewish writing.  Very unique.  And very unique to this story.  As he kneels before Jesus, titling Him as good teacher, he asks this weighted question – what must I do to inherit eternal life?  Lets not miss the subtle inference here.  The man knows that there is life beyond this one.

The man has recognized something about Jesus that sets Him apart.  Something that has caused the man to address Him as good teacher and to kneel before Him.  Then the question.  The question that plagues all other religions in the world.  “what must I do to gain eternal life?”

What are those things that I am not doing that I must now do to secure this thing?  The man has seen something, or has hears something, about Jesus that indicates that Jesus might know the answer.  He wants to make sure that he is not missing something.  And this man, Jesus, of all people must know.  And here is what he is saying, “Just a short conversation and then I will know what is the next thing so that I can be sure.”

The man is implying that he has done other things that should secure this reward, or at least show that he is on the right path.  Rightly so he wants to make sure and it certainly is important to him based on the manner in which he approaches Jesus.

The key here – what must I do? A question of ability.

Now does this man know the message of Jesus?  The one from Mark 1:15 – repent and believe in gospel.  We can look at this with some confidence and say probably not.  And we should be able to see this as we look at the scripture.

15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

All this in contrast to what Jesus taught in Mark 10:15 (NASB95)

15“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”


18 But Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.

Jesus’ immediate response is not with regard to the question but with regard to the man’s address – why do you call me good?  Interesting that this is the first response to the supplicating man.  Why do you call me good?  What is Jesus’ concern?  Or what will be the depth of the teaching?  Jesus steps now into the deep end.  Showing the man who He is.  Because the question is followed by the statement that only God is good.  In other words why do you address me with this title if God alone is good.  Do you recognize me for who I am or are you just flippantly tossing out that word.  Based on the man’s supplication there may be some form of recognition.  But probably only as one who is greater (more learned) than himself.

And maybe we should look a little deeper.  The man is seeking answers from Jesus.  This implies that Jesus has done more and therefore would know more about what must be done to gain eternal life.  Jesus, in other words, has done more works and therefore has the answers.

(A little aside – there is truth to this about Jesus.  He has completed the covenant of works.  He has lived the life we couldn’t live and died the death we couldn’t die so that those who are found in Him would have eternal life.  Jesus completes the covenant of works so that we have the covenant of grace.)

This gives the situation and interesting flavor.  Jesus is in the process of doing all these things, with the cross standing before Him to be done.  The man is asking what must be done by himself, indicating that he has the ability to gain entrance into the heavenly realm by his own ability.  Yet without the work of the cross no one can gain entrance.  Key to remember – we see the whole story – the man here does not.

And the church in Rome sees the whole story too.  The know the cross, the empty tomb, the ascension.  And hearing this story they will probably pity this man.


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.’”

Jesus knowing the man’s heart states the second table of the law to the man, Exodus 20:12-17 (with one caveat).  He makes a statement about fraud which is seen as a summary for the commandment against coveting.  Fraud would be the natural outpouring of a covetous heart showing the desire of the heart of a man beset with coveting.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be prolonged on the land which the Lord your God gives you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male slave, or his female slave, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

The second table are those commandments that deal directly with man’s interpersonal relationship with one another.  Jesus has brought forth these commandments to speak to this man.  Working from the law with regard to his relationship with his fellow man.

Think about these commandments specifically, in relation to the first table.  The first table reads as follows:

You shall have no other gods before Me

You shall not make for yourself and idol or any likeness of what is in heaven or on earth or beneath the water.  You shall not worship or serve them…

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain

Remember the sabbath

Isn’t it interesting that the commandments of the first table are unseen.  In other words they are not easily observed from outside of the person.  However, those of the second table, the ones that Jesus just spoke of can be observed, or witnessed.

This man had just bowed down before Jesus asking what he could do to ensure that he gains eternal life and Jesus has restated those commandments whose obeyance can easily be seen.  That the work of following them can be observed, demonstrated, witnessed.  Or should we say the physical obeyance can be seen.

The man is focused on ability and Jesus is speaking about those commandments that can be witnessed to outward ability.

A witness could point to murder, adultery, theft, lying, defrauding, and how he could have dishonored his father and mother.

This leads to the man’s response.


20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth.”

“Teacher”, he says to Jesus, “I have followed ALL these since my youth.”  Dealing with the youth statement first we find that this would fall back to his age of reason. The time in which he became responsible for his decisions.  That age when he would positively know right from wrong.  For example an infant, although born a sinner, has no ability to reason right from wrong.  In this case the man would be referring to the age of 12/13.  His time of bar mitzvah, the son of the commandment.  At this point the boy would have become responsible for keeping God’s law, living by His commandments.

He claims that from his youth he has followed all of these.  He claims that through his work that the commandments have been kept in his life.  Perhaps standing before Jesus proud, self satisfied.  See good teacher, I have done this.  I have kept those commandments.  I have been an exemplary Jewish man.

Yet there is still the problem of the question.  What more must I do to inherit, to gain the assurance of eternal life? And the problem of the question is also the problem of the commandments.  And to understand the problem of the commandments we have to look to the sermon on the Mount.

Turn, if you will, to Matthew 5:21-27.  Jesus is expanding on the meaning of the law.  Not adding to it but expanding on it so that the meaning was clear.  As we read through those verses we find a disturbing issue.  We need to look no further than Matthew 5:22.  Jesus tells them that those who are angry with their brother are guilty of murder.  Now we know they are not guilty of physical murder but they are guilty of murder within their being.  Within their heart.

Personal Relationships

21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not murder,’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be answerable to the court.’

22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be answerable to the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘you good-for-nothing,’ shall be answerable to the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

23 Therefore, if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you,

24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

25 Come to good terms with your accuser quickly, while you are with him on the way to court, so that your accuser will not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you will not be thrown into prison.

26 Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last quadrans.

This is the issue at hand.  One can outwardly keep all the commandments.  Following every jot and title of the law yet inwardly be committing the most heinous of sins.  Committing these sins within their heart.  That is the problem.  The witnessed obeyance does not show the inward heart of the man.  The heart that is desperately wicked above all things – Jeremiah 17:9.

This is the problem of the question.  The problem of ability.  Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that no man can understand the depths of depravity of the human heart.  That what the heart of man commands and desires is beyond the understanding of not only himself but also his fellow man.  The wickedness that comes from the heart can betray the outward adherence to the commandments.  I haven’t murdered anyone, but I have hated everything about them.

“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?

So the man responded, in a confident manner, that he has kept the commandments. But…


21 Looking at him, Jesus showed love to 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.”

Jesus loved him.  Jesus saw the heart of the man.  No man can understand the heart, but Jesus can  the God Man.  The man came to him seeking.  Looking for the next thing to do.  The thing that would assure him of eternal life.  Because he believes he is able.  And Jesus loved him.

Seeing the issue at hand.  The heart of the man.  The desire of the man to keep his possessions.  Or should we say that the possessions affirmed to the man that he was on the right track.  That he was blessed by God.

And Jesus loved him.

Jesus loved him by pointing out that it’s not checking boxes.  Jesus loved him by giving him the impossible task.  Giving him the impossible task for his heart.  Giving him the thing to do which was outside of his power.  Giving him the thing to do which was beyond his ability.

You asked for what you should do.  And I tell you to Go and sell everything, Give it to the poor, and follow Me.

Please turn to Mark 8:34-38.  Jesus said to come after Him one must deny himself.  One must lose their life here to gain that which is eternal.

34 And He summoned the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.

35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

36 For what does it benefit a person to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?

37 For what could a person give in exchange for his soul?

38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

He told him what he lacked.  Not a mystery.  But cutting to the heart of the issue.  He lacked trust in God.  He lacked trust in God’s plan.

Jesus loved him by penetrating the hardness that existed within him.  Jesus loved him by showing him the awful truth of the heart.  He loved him by showing him that his works based righteousness was not enough to save him.  It was not enough to gain eternal life.

He loved him by showing him that he was not on the way.

The words must have been crushing to this man.  Words which he did not expect.  He may have been making a mental checklist when he approached Jesus.  Looking for confirmation.  Looking for the next thing he suspected.  Waiting to say to Jesus, “I knew that was what I was missing, I will go do it now.  Thank you good teacher.”  But that was not the way.  That was not the true answer.

Jesus would not have been loving the man had he not told him the truth.  Had he not cut through the hard heart.

Those things which the man depended on, those things on which he built his life were no foundation.  They were sinking sand.  Jesus pointed to full reliance on Him.  That full reliance on Jesus was the way to eternal life.  That the commandments only pointed to the shadow of Christ.  The only one who could complete the law.

Your abilities mean nothing.  I, Jesus, am an all or nothing proposition.


22 But he was deeply dismayed by these words, and he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.

And the reaction was sudden and final.  The shock at the answer struck the man at the heart of the issue.  Jesus did not dance around the issue and it shows in the man’s reaction.  Gloomy and somber the man is struck by the love that Jesus showed him.

Jesus had shown the man that he was on the wrong path.  That although he had knelt before Jesus he had not truly knelt in supplication before the living God.  That he had put all his hope in those things which he owned. And the shock of the words of Jesus, the God Man brought it all home to him.

The man had come to Jesus on the way to the cross and he left the way.  Sullen and gloomy.  Confronted with the stark reality of his situation.  A life spent on ‘keeping’ the law and missing the mark.  The one thing he lacked with the most important thing of all.  He lacked the changed heart.

The way to salvation, Jesus, had answered the question and the man didn’t like the answer.  His heart was rent, but his pride kept him off the way.  The only instance in the gospels where the call to follow was not realized.

To a degree this is a shocking set of verses.

Shocking in the implication of the result.

Outwardly the man was righteous

He followed the law

With confidence

Before the community


They could all say that per the law he was righteous

Paul talks about these same things with regard to himself

Look with me, if you will, to Philippians 3:4-6 (NASB)

although I myself could boast as having confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he is confident in the flesh, I have more reason:

circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;

as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.

Paul – found blameless with regard to the law

This is what this man is saying

Paul had the Damascus road experience with the risen Christ

And Paul discovered the truth of his righteousness

Look at Philippians 3:7-11 (NASB)

But whatever things were gain to me, these things I have counted as loss because of Christ.

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them mere rubbish, so that I may gain Christ,

and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,

10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;

11 if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

It was no righteousness at all

Paul’s works with the law and self-righteousness was loss

Because the commandments were being pressed into something they were not meant to do

They were meant to show God’s character and to point to the need for Christ

They were a shadow of what was to come and to be accomplished through Jesus

Paul rightly viewed his previous righteousness as loss compared to the incomparable Christ

And we see the same thing with this rich man

This man had confidence in his flesh

He had confidence that he could work his way to God

He was looking for the next thing he could do to gain eternal life

This man approached Jesus on the way to the cross

He approached the pre-crucified Jesus

He wanted to know what he could do

And as Jesus loved him, he showed him the impossibility of his work

How his work could not change his heart

We listen to these verses, we see the words of the epistles and it is my hope that you see Jesus loving you

In the scripture itself we find the love of Christ.  Christ loving us.

We see how our self-righteous, prideful acts of goodness provide no salvation for us

We see how we are lost sinners in need of salvation

We see how nothing we can do of ourselves can set us right before a righteous and holy God

We see our need for a savior

We see our need for one who does what we could not do

We see the Damascus road of Paul and can see ourselves confronted with

I am a good person

See how I help people

See how nice I am

See how people speak well of me

And we see the truth through the scripture

That we have lying, lustful, deceitful hearts

Hearts that need to be circumcised

Hearts that need to be rent

Hearts that need to hear the truth of Christ

Hearts that react like those at the preaching of Peter on the day of Pentecost

Acts 2:37 – their hearts were pierced

Unfortunately, many of us react like the rich young man

We look for the next thing we can do to justify our lives before God

We point to our works

And say – look at what I have do

I alone have done these things

I am worthy of your heaven, God

Many look at the Jesus and lay down what would have been their cross and walk away

They are confronted with their hard hearts and they harden them more

They clutch to the things of this world as if they will continue

They hold to their treasures as the things that will save them from the grave

As they are drug down to the depths holding on to the those things of creation rather than holding on to the creator

The prayer is that for any that don’t know Christ that you will here the words here

That your heart will be pierced

That you will allow Jesus to gather you to Him

That you will not cling to your works

But that you will cling to the cross.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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