I have spent the better part of this school year teaching through the Gospel of Mark with my preschool teachers. We have all learned so much about our Lord and Savior, how He interacted with people to share the message of the Gospel with them in order to help them connect with God. All throughout the history of Israel, God had established spiritual leaders to help the common people connect with Him. For the most part, the spiritual leaders used their position and authority to lord over the people instead of help them connect with God. In Mark 10, Jesus reveals what people who are not connected with God are like. Most of the examples are the spiritual leaders. This is yet another opportunity for the spiritual leaders to admit their failure, repent of their mindset and actions, and connect with God through Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, most of them were so caught up in themselves that they could not admit their wrong doing and therefore continued to live disconnected from their Creator. This same problem exists to this very day in all churches, no matter the denomination or creed. I would like to examine this idea of getting connected with God through the Lord Jesus Christ as presented by Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 10.
I. Characteristics of those not connected with God
The spiritual leaders come to Jesus, once again, not to learn anything from Him but, to test Him. They wanted to trap Jesus and try to get Him to make a mistake so that they could use it against Him. They were very jealous of Jesus because their power and authority was being challenged by Him. The people loved Jesus because He was genuine. The spiritual leaders were not genuine and the people knew it. The topic was marriage and the spiritual leaders used a passage from the Old Testament about Moses allowing the people to divorce. They asked why Moses “commanded” the people to divorce. The text from the Old Testament reveals that Moses “allowed” not “commanded”. In the context, the reason that Moses “allowed” divorce was to protect the victim and the victim usually was the woman. Jesus gives some insight, explaining that the reason Moses allowed divorce was because of the hardness of the people’s hearts. They were not connected to God and it was being manifest in their stubbornness toward God’s commands and the wicked ways that they were treating each other. So, here are some characteristics of people who have not connected to God:
- Do not have a teachable spirit
- Try to trick others into making mistakes
- Use the Word of God in a manipulative way
- Will not accept the clear teachings of Jesus Christ
Are any of these qualities a part of who you are as a person? Are you teachable/coachable or do you think that you know it all? Do you try to make others think that you know it all? Do you ever use language to try and trick people into making mistakes and then use what they say against them? Do you seek to manipulate others? Do you manipulate the clear teachings of the Word of God for your own purposes? When faced with the clear teachings of Jesus Christ, do you repent and submit or do you get angry and try to justify things?
In verses 17-27, we see a rich young ruler who is different from the spiritual leaders because he is sincere in asking Jesus questions. He genuinely wants to know the secret to attaining eternal life. The fact that he does not already have eternal life is proof that this man is not connected to God. Jesus uses the opportunity to reveal what the man has in his life that is keeping him from connecting with God. Jesus tells the rich, young man to keep the commandments. The rich young man sincerely tells Jesus that he has kept them since childhood. Jesus then lists off 6 of the 10 commandments. The 6 commandments mentioned deal with relationships with others. Jesus purposefully leaves off the first 4 commandments, one of which is not to have any idols. The first 4 commandments deal with a person’s relationship to God. This young man was not connected to God and the reason that he could not connect was because of the idol in his life. The young man’s idol is exposed when Jesus tells him to go and sell all that he has and give away his possessions to the poor. Then Jesus tells the man to come and follow Him. The man knows that following Jesus is the path to connecting with God and having eternal life. The man walks away from Christ and eternal life in order to hang on to his idol, his possessions. A person who is not connected with God will walk away from Christ. He is not able to give up his idols in order to follow Christ. He does not have assurance of eternal life. The man has a very different attitude when compared to the religious leaders, yet, at the end of the day, both groups are not connected to God and walk away from Jesus Christ.
The third group of people mentioned in this passage, people who are not connected with God, are the Gentiles, or pagans. In verses 41-45, they reveal that they are not connected to God by the fact that they seek to attain power and authority in order to lord over others and be served by them. They do not want to serve others. They want to be served. When a person is not connected to God, he seeks power and authority so that others will have to serve him and he does not have to serve them.
II. Characteristics of those who have connected with God
What do those who have connected with God look like? How do they act? How do they treat others? How do they deal with the idols in their lives? What do they do when they hear Jesus call them to action? In verses 13-16, Jesus uses little children as an example of genuine faith in action. He uses the little children to show what people who have connected with God look like and act like.
- They have childlike faith
- They are an example of Genuine faith
- They run to Jesus to learn
- They have a teachable spirit
- They are not hindered by obstacles
The religious leaders ran to Jesus to trap Him. When they did not get what they wanted, they ran away from Jesus. The rich, young ruler ran away from Jesus. His idol was a hinderance to keep him away from Jesus, connecting with God, and eternal life.
In verses 28-31, we see the disciples as an example of those who have childlike faith in following Jesus Christ. They had already turned away form their potential idols. They had already left everything to follow Him. But, then in verse 35-40, James and John have their hidden idols exposed. These two of the twelve wanted to have honor and glory. They idolized honor and glory and Jesus exposed it and confronted it. The reaction of James and John was very different than that of the spiritual leaders and the rich, young ruler. They did not walk away from Jesus. It seems that they were scolded by the other disciples and they repented. They continued to follow Jesus even though He had exposed their hidden idol. This is a mark of a person who has connected with God. He does not mind being confronted by the Truth. When his hidden idols are exposed, he repents and continues to follow Jesus Christ. He has a teachable and correctable spirit.
In verses 41-45, the final mark of a person who has connected with God through Jesus Christ is the fact that he now has a desire to serve others instead of being served. If he attains power and authority, he uses his power and authority to serve people. Jesus, the Creator of the universe, when He came to the earth that He created, He did not come to be served. Instead, He came to serve all mankind. This is the desire of every person who is connected to God. How do you respond when you are confronted and have your hidden sins exposed? Do you confess and repent or, do you get mad and attack the person who confronted you? Do you seek to use your power and authority to serve others or, to be served? Is there anything in your life that keeps you from following Jesus? Are you ready to get rid of that idol?
III. They Key to connecting with God
Jesus tells us that the key to connecting with God is understanding and applying the message of the Gospel. In verse 32-34, Jesus has to help His disciples understand that Jesus came to this earth to die on the cross as a sacrifice to pay the price for mankind’s sin debt. Jesus came to take the punishment that we all deserve. Three days after paying the price, Jesus rose from the dead to set His followers free from sin’s death grip over their lives. Our slavery to sin can be released. We need to hear the message of the Gospel, understand the message of the Gospel, and believe (trust) the message of the Gospel. If and when we do this, Jesus teaches us in John 3 that we will be born again from above. This will manifest itself in the fact that we will no longer seek our own honor and glory. Instead, we will seek to serve the Lord by serving the people around us with the life changing message of the Gospel. Have you heard the Gospel? Do you understand the message of the Gospel? Have you believed the message of the Gospel and been born again? Do you secretly seek honor and glory? Do you secretly desire to be served by others? Or, are you seeking to give glory to God by serving the people around you?
May the Lord help us connect with God through Jesus Christ by hearing, understanding, and believing the message of the Gospel!