“Jesus Beholding Him Loved Him”
“And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, 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. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:17-27)
We have before us the story of the rich young ruler. It is recorded three times in the New Testament. Matthew, Mark and Luke were inspired by God the Holy Spirit to write it out in detail for our learning. The threefold repetition of the simple facts recorded in this story is intended to make us aware that the lessons taught here are of immense importance. May God the Holy Spirit inscribe upon our hearts those things, which he would have us to learn from this story.
Were it not for the grace of God, we would all make the same choice this rich young ruler made and perish with the world.
Three Common Delusions
“And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth” (vv. 17-20).
There are many things about this young man, which, at first sight, appear to be commendable. He was earnest and zealous. He came running to Christ. He was reverent and respectful. He kneeled to the Savior in a respectful, reverent, if not worshipful, manner. He was thoughtful of his soul and eternity. And, at least in his outward behavior, he was a very moral man. Any mother or father looking for a young man for their daughter to date and perhaps marry, if this rich young ruler were around, would urge her to set her hat for him. But this rich, moral, zealous, religious man was deluded by his own self-righteousness and pride. His delusion was the common delusion of all men since the fall of Adam. It was a threefold delusion.
First, he thought salvation could be obtained by something he could do. This is the delusion of all lost men, in all ages, the delusion of all human religion, and the delusion of antichrist. All men think that salvation comes as the result of something they do. Few deny grace altogether, or deny that God has something to do with salvation. This young man acknowledged that eternal life is the inheritance and gift of grace; but he still thought it was to be obtained by something he could do.
Being ignorant of God’s righteousness, he went about to establish his own righteousness. And anyone who seeks to establish righteousness for himself will not and cannot submit to the righteousness of God in Christ (Romans 9:31-10:4). — “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Romans 9:16). — “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). — “By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16). To every self-righteous person who asks, “What must I do?”, I answer in the words of James Procter…
“Nothing, either great or small,
Nothing, sinner, no;
Jesus did it, did it all,
Long, long ago!
When He, from His lofty throne,
Stooped to do and die,
Everything was fully done.
Hearken to His cry: --
“It is finished!” Yes, indeed,
Finished every jot:
Sinner, this is all you need.
Tell me, Is it not?
Weary, working, plodding one,
Why toil you so?
Cease your doing, all was done,
Long, long ago!
Till to Jesus’ work you cling,
By a simple faith,
Doing is a deadly thing.
Doing ends in death.
Cast your deadly doing down,
Down at Jesus’ feet!
Stand in Him, in Him lone,
This man’s second delusion was that he thought the law of God only had to do with outward behavior. When you read verses 19 and 20, do not be so foolish and ignorant as numerous learned theologians, and imagine that the Lord Jesus was teaching that there really are two ways of salvation, that a man can either be saved by grace or by works. That is not the case at all. This man asked what he could do, and the Master told him what he must do. If you want to be saved by your works, all you have to do is keep the law — PERFECTLY! — “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10).
Our Lord’s purpose was not to teach salvation by legal obedience, but the impossibility of it, and to expose this man’s sin to himself. Painful as it is to experience, no one will ever be saved until he is made to see himself as he really is, a vile, hell bent, corrupt, ungodly wretch.
This self-righteous Pharisee was, like all lost religious people, totally ignorant of the spiritual nature of God’s law. He thought the law reached no further than outward deeds. He never took into consideration the fact that the Lord looketh on the heart. He thought that adultery was intercourse, not lust, — that murder was killing someone, not anger, — stealing was taking something that belongs to another, not covetousness, — that bearing false witness was openly lying about someone, not insinuating or thinking evil, — that fraud was taking another person’s property, not wanting it, — that parental honor was saying “Ma’am” and “Sir”, not reverencing his parents’ name, honoring their wishes, and taking care of them in their old age.
His third delusion was that he thought he had actually obeyed God’s law and thus was worthy of God’s acceptance in and of himself. — “And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.”
I never cease to be amazed by the fact that even the most base, profligate, sensual men and women of this world are really very proud and think so very highly of themselves that they brazenly presume they are good enough for God! That is really the root of all unbelief. Everyone in his own humble opinion is too good to need the grace of God and blood and righteousness of his dear Son. May God the Holy Spirit continually teach us who and what we are and who Christ is, lest we perish in our proud delusions of self-righteousness.
Next we are told that our dear Savior beheld this man and loved him — “Then Jesus beholding him loved him” (v. 21). Mark saw a remarkable display of tenderness, love, and compassion in the Lord Jesus toward this young man.
It is sickening to read the comments of many on this text. The Arminians rush to tell us, “There, you see, God loves even those who are not saved, even those who go to hell. The love of God is universal.” The Calvinists, imagining that God’s love must be protected and that Arminian fools are worthy of being answered, run to the Greek language and find some far out, outlandish usage of the word “loved” (agape) to prove that the word does not really mean love at all.
Take this blessed text just as it stands, learn what it teaches, and rejoice in the great love of Christ for sinners! There are two things to be observed here.
First, the Lord Jesus beheld this man. He beheld everything about him. He beheld his present condition. He beheld his heart. And he beheld what he had done and would do for him.
Second, the Son of God loved this man. I have no doubt at all that though this man at first chose the world over Christ (just as I did), he was later converted by God’s free grace. I say that because God the Holy Spirit inspired Mark to tell us that, “Jesus beholding him loved him.” Here are four sweet, indisputable facts revealed in Holy Scripture about the love of God our Savior:
These four sweet facts of divine revelation tells us that this young man who was loved by the Savior from eternity, and loved by him in his rebellion, was saved by him at the appointed time of love.
The Lord Jesus so loved this man that he graciously uncovered his sin, pulled the covering off his heart, and in verses 21-22 discovered his inward, hidden corruption.
“Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.”
The Lord Jesus met this man at his point of rebellion. He always does. Sooner or later, he will meet you at your point of rebellion and demand surrender. This young man’s reigning sin an overwhelming affection for the things of this world. His riches were his idol. His heart was set upon and trusted in his wealth. John Gill wrote…
“He was so far from keeping all the commandments, that he had not kept the first; ‘thou shalt have no other gods before me’. There was more than one thing wanting in him, but Christ takes notice of this as the first; and there was no need to mention any other. This touched him sensibly, and fully tried, and sufficiently exposed the vanity of his boasted perfection...Finding that he must part with two things his heart was set upon, his idol of self-righteousness, and his mammon of unrighteousness; the bladder of his pride was pricked, and his vanity and self-conceit were exposed…which were sadly mortifying, and exceedingly disagreeable to him.”
What is your point of rebellion? That is where you must do business with God. Did you ever notice how often those two words, “one thing”, are used in Scripture? They are very instructive. — David desired “one thing,” that he might dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 27:4). — Mary chose the “one thing” needful, to sit at Jesus’ feet and hear his words (Luke 10:42). — The man born blind, who was healed by the Master, said, “One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25). — Paul said, “One thing I do: forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
But this proud, self-righteous young rich man was lost, because “one thing” was lacking. Though he felt much, did much, thought much, and believed much, the one thing lacking was faith in Christ.
A Blessed Revelation
As this rich man walked away, clinging to his riches, the Lord Jesus made a statement to his disciples, which disturbed them greatly and opened the way for him to instruct them and us with a blessed revelation.
“And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, 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. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (vv. 23-27).
Commenting on these verses, Robert Hawker wrote…
“The concluding part of this passage is uncommonly beautiful and interesting. While Jesus in strong figures represents the total impossibility of the mere efforts of nature, rising above nature, he sets forth the ease and blessedness with which his redeemed, through his grace, will attain his kingdom. A huge camel might as soon pass through the eye of a needle, as for a rich man; rich in his own fancied goodness, swollen and bloated with his own Pharisaical righteousness, but never regenerated by grace, to enter into the kingdom of God. While on the other hand, every one of Christ’s regenerated family, poor in spirit, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom, and who give proofs of the triumphs of grace over nature, leaving all for Christ, will enter with a full tide of glory into Christ’s kingdom being saved, not by works of righteousness which they have done, but according to rich, free and sovereign mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, shed upon them abundantly through Jesus Christ our Lord (Titus 3:5-6).”
There are in verses 23-27 three very important truths, which very few understand, and fewer still lay to heart.
So great, so magnanimous, so good is the grace of God that he can strip and empty the most self-sufficient Pharisee and bring him through the needle’s eye of faith in Christ into his kingdom. God almighty can save even the richest man in the world. The man who thinks himself spiritually rich and loves himself is no more beyond the reach of omnipotent mercy than the most promiscuous harlot. The man who loves the world, trusts in his riches, and therefore despises the things of God is not beyond the power of free grace. If, indeed, salvation is by grace alone (And it is!), there is no case or circumstance, which should cause us to despair.
John Newton once said, “When I get to heaven, I am sure that three things will simply astonish me. I am sure very many will be there whom I never expected to be there. I am sure that many will not be there whom I fully expected would be there. But the most astonishing thing of all will be the fact that old John Newton will be there.” Later, just before his death, Newton said, “I am an old man. I cannot remember much. But I do remember two things: I am a great sinner; and Jesus Christ is a great Savior.”
Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com