Jesus set a child in front of the audience and said, Look carefully, ladies and gentlemen; if you want to live in My eternal kingdom, you must come to Me just as this child has (Mark 10:15), which begs the question: How did the child come?
I imagine Jesus called him or her up to the front and the little person approached, perhaps sheepishly and skittishly, but obediently. His or her countenance surely reflected openness and readiness, eyes widened for whatever the Master had in mind. Also, I am sure everything in Billy’s or Sally’s body language resonated with humility, don’t you think? Can’t you just see the child feeling uncomfortable beneath the stares of the throngs and don’t you imagine their heartbeat quickening with each uneasy step?
I also picture the child having hesitated, not because of her weighing whether or not to go—indeed she wanted to go for all she was worth!—but wondering if she should go without her parents. The child looks back at his parents hoping to have them go as well but Jesus’ reassuring words allay all that. It’s all right, child, you can trust Me. Come to Me.
Obediently. Trustingly. Humbly. That’s how it’s done!
Then Mark’s narrative offers a handful of scenarios showing what many try to carry into the kingdom. These are things you cannot have.
Scenario #1: A wealthy man “RAN” (Mark 10:17) to Messiah and fell to his knees and asked the Savior how he could solidify his place in heaven. This is the only time in Scripture where we see someone kneeling before the Lord but leaving in worse shape after such an act of deference. Should we see a parallel between this and what happens in modern day church gatherings? How many ‘posers’ are there on Sundays at 11:00 in the morning who have head thrown back, eyes upward, arms extended but heart empty and self-serving? Or, how many like this young man who came to Jesus, are truly sincere in their piety but far from the kingdom because they are not ready to make Jesus everything through the week?
You know this vignette well, I suppose. Jesus touches on the one thing that blocks this young seeker’s way into the kingdom: his riches, yes, but more importantly, who reigns? (see note following) Messiah even tells his disciples afterward, “How hard is it for the rich to enter?” It was a foregone conclusion to all in that ancient culture that the rich were “shoo-ins” with regard to the kingdom of God. In the day’s thinking, obviously the rich were highly favored by God on the evidence of their wealth so their hallowed place was a no duh.
But here Jesus turns this notion on its head and says, “Not so!” Riches can be an obstacle to faith, He reasons sadly. This tragic story tells us that one cannot BUY their place at the King’s table—yea, the turnstile onto the narrow road permits no luggage. He must be given Lordship over everything or we have no claim to eternal life. Check all at the door, if you will.
(NOTE: I am not saying all rich people are going to hell; the issue here and everywhere is the reign of Christ. Do not miss the obvious: I don’t think Jesus was merely testing the young man to see if he would sell his possessions as I have long thought. Could it be that our Lord was commanding him to do so—and he refused? This is the so-called ‘faith’ of many today: Lord, I believe, but I still want to manage my own life. Fat chance that heaven sees this as saving faith!)
Scenario #2: A few verses down (Mark 10:41-45) the disciples have been having one of their epic tiffs with one another over which would have the higher place in the kingdom. Jesus quickly diffuses it with a sound bite on authority with God, that authority is given to those who are servant-hearted, who are willing to sit at the kids’ table. One cannot muscle their way into the kingdom. The kingdom is for those who will be made weak (as a child).
Scenario #3: The last treasure found in this Markan trilogy of childlike faith is about a blind man who calls out to Jesus for healing. The man has no name. You say, yes he does! It’s clear as day his name is Bartimaeus! And you’d be…wrong. That’s not his name. It’s how he was known in the community: “Son of Timothy.” He couldn’t even rate a name, his situation was so pathetic! Here is something else we cannot have in order to lay claim to the kingdom of God: a name.
We are so busy trying to make a name for ourselves, to be recognized, to grapple for influence and status, but this nameless blind beggar who “got in” tells us that we must lose our names if we will wear the namesake of God. “Son of God” should be our response when someone requests our name.
So there you have it. Three things we cannot have if we are to come through the turnstile onto the narrow road:
- Treasure on earth. (in the stead of giving God its ownership)
- Personal power and status.
- A prestigious name we make for ourselves.
We must have the heart of a child: obedient, weak, humble, empty-handed and dependent. To such the Lord offers His lap and eternal life.