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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Mark 10". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ sbc/ mark-10.html.
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Mark 10". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
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Children welcomed to Christ.
You will observe, that the attitude and the act were at one and the same moment, paternal and priestly. He took the children up in His arms as a father; while, as a high priest, "He put His hands upon them and blessed them." And so, we may say, is every act of Christ. There is a human affection and sympathy, a fondness as a man; and there is a grace, an actual grace imparted, by virtue of His divine and holy office.
I. The danger of sin standing in the way of children coming to Christ. Is not much that calls itself "religious education" really an imbuing a child's mind with a dislike and dread of the whole subject? Look well to it, lest you be found with one hand to have brought your children to baptism, and with the other really to have frightened them away from that very Christ, with whom you think you have left them.
II. The duty of bringing children to Christ. It is an oft told tale, how the impressions made in childhood are sure to creep out in after-life. How the ship, which would ride well upon the waves, must have the ballast laid in before she is launched upon the deep waters, and how a useful manhood, and a happy old age, are almost always the sequence of a pious childhood.
III. The necessity laid upon us all, of ourselves becoming like little children. If it were only that we might influence children, we should cultivate a childlike spirit, for none can do good, especially to the young, but those who are very simple in their thoughts, and very lowly in their ways. But in what are we to become like a little child? In many things; but I will just mention one or two. (1) When those little children lay in Jesus' arms, His act came before any of their acts. Freely as He bestowed the grace, so freely the little children took it. This is just the way to get to the Kingdom. (2) The credulity of the child is the faith of the Christian. My Saviour, my Lord has said it. He has said it, and I will believe it; and I will ask no questions. (3) And a very little child is necessarily led. So we must be content to be borne and carried every step.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 1874, p. 271.
The Children's Charter.
I. It throws the tender lovingkindness of Jesus into bold relief if we compare it with the unloving, inconsiderate behaviour of His disciples. For they rebuked the women, and even laid their strong hands on the little ones who came running round Christ, and pushed them back. They seem, indeed, to have been quite unusually rude and rough in their bearing. For when we read that they rebuked the women, we are not to understand that they used dignified and polite language. What the word means is that they chid, that they scolded them, rating them for their forwardness and presumption in intruding themselves upon the Master's notice. The disciples only made a mistake such as we all make sometimes. It was love, rising to zeal, for their Lord which led them to push back the children, though it was not a zeal according to knowledge. They meant no harm, and yet they might have done great harm. They might not only have robbed you of your charter, and the women and children of the blessing they craved; they might also have deprived themselves and the Pharisees of the lesson they both so much needed to learn: viz., "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter therein."
II. Even the best men, then, even those who stand nearest Christ, sin against Him and provoke Him to anger if they treat children as though they did not belong to Him, and had no right to come to Him. And yet this is just what many good men are doing unto this day. But never mind them. Look to Christ; listen to what He says. He says that you children, and those who resemble you, are in His kingdom; and that, therefore, you may go to Him when you will, sure that He loves you, and that He will bless you.
S. Cox, The Bird's Nest, p. 83.
The passage which I have taken as a text has a meaning as regards the spiritual influence attaching to infant baptism, beyond that which the exhortation in the Baptismal Service seems to assign to it. If we find it necessary to admit that infants were benefited by being brought to Christ, and that every difficulty which belongs to infant baptism belongs in an equal degree to the case of the infants received and blessed by Christ, then we shall feel that it is far from incredible, rather that it is in the highest degree probable, that infants brought into Christ's spiritual presence in His ordinance do receive a real spiritual benefit thereby.
I. In the first place, then, did the children who were brought to Christ receive any benefit? It is clear that the parents thought they would; and when we read that "He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them," I should deem it impiety to suppose that they received no benefit. Let us admit then, that through the faith of their parents or friends these children received an advantage which other children, not blessed by Christ, did not receive; so much, I think, it is easy to grant, but when we come to inquire what this advantage was, the answer is not so easy.
II. Was it, for instance, a certainty of salvation that these infants received? Surely not; it would be impiety to imagine it even for a moment. Adam and Eve were blessed by God, and pronounced very good; yet Adam and Eve fell: and Judas must, I suppose, have often received the blessing of his Master, although he turned out a traitor. Again, was it security from temptation? Surely not; in this world of trial and temptation it has never been granted to any to have exemption; on the other hand, those have usually been the best and holiest, who have been most subject to temptations.
III. The blessing was, after all, a blessing without price, one which these children doubtless felt themselves in after years that they would not exchange for the wealth of worlds. And if this be so, then we come to this important result, that it is possible to predicate of children that they have received a great spiritual benefit, a benefit which no human words can exaggerate, and yet not to assert anything absurd or anything dangerous. Now let us see how this bears upon the Sacrament of Baptism; in this case we have children presented to Christ, and if the sacrament be of His own appointment, and the children come to it by His own invitation, then it seems quite necessary to believe that they receive a blessing from the Lord, a blessing which we need not fear to exaggerate by any such language as we can frame.
Bishop Harvey Goodwin, Parish Sermons, 2nd series, p. 116.
References: Mark 10:13-16 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x., No. 581; vol. xxxii., No. 1925; H. M. Luckock, Footprints of the Son of Man, p. 216; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 50; H.W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxv., p. 344; J. Sherman, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 325.Mark 10:14 . C. Girdlestone, Twenty Parochial Sermons, 3rd series, p. 187; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 130; J. Aldis, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiv., p. 154; W. C. E. Newbolt, Counsels of Faith and Practice, p. 97.
I. The Holy Spirit, in this well-known passage of St. Mark's Gospel, offers to the minds of serious persons a very affecting instance of the Divine love and condescension. We are here taught, among other things, that our gracious Master regards with approbation any attempts, made in faith and humility, to bring the young ones of His flock to the privileges and knowledge of His Gospel. He wishes children to be brought to Him from their earliest infancy. As they grow older, He would have them taught to worship the God of their fathers, not as fulfilling a questionable or irksome obligation, but with a perfect heart and with a willing mind.
II. When in former days, in the spirit of true devotion, the Jewish mothers brought their children to the holy Jesus, that He might lay His hands on their heads and bless them, some who were present were greatly offended at this, which they at once condemned as a vain, idle, and useless superstition. But the Lord seeth not as man seeth. What man pronounces to be weakness and folly, or even worse, the Lord Jesus Christ took even pains to show His approbation of. What man, in the confidence of carnal wisdom, pronounces to be mere superstition and formality; that, when practised by a heart filled with penitence, lowliness and obedience, and a mere desire to do only what God commands, and to love only what He promises, that, however meanly thought of in this miserable world, He, the Great Almighty Father will, we doubt not, pour down His choicest blessings on. To seek God in the way of His ordinances, and not in ways of our own choosing, must always be the safest course. To do this can never be dangerous; to do other than this, can never be safe.
Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. x., p. 275.
Reference: Mark 10:16 . Outline Sermons to Children, p. 149.
The Child-like Mind.
I. The childlike temper is nowise inconsistent with true manliness manliness both of the intellect and of the will and feelings. Well-meaning persons sometimes fall into the mistake of contrasting the heroic with the Christian character, as if the highest heroism were not that which is distinctly Christian. The difference between mere heathen or worldly manliness and the manliness of the Christian is, that the first is entirely self-dependent, while the other ever numbly depends on God. The Christian martyr, as much as the hero of this world, has overcome the natural weakness which would make us always to be timidly looking out for support from our fellow-men; he has learned, in one sense, to stand alone; but then, in another sense, he knows that he is not alone. The humility of the childlike character, given by the Holy Spirit of God to Christians, makes them more, instead of less, brave in all dangers.
II. Again, the childlike temper of the Christian has nothing in it of the folly of childhood. As a general statement every one assents to this. No one maintains directly that a humble and simple mind, wrought in us by the Spirit of God, will attach us to trivial matters, or incapacitate us for feeling an interest in all events of really deep moment. Sometimes well-meaning men mistake in this teaching that a humble, simple-minded Christian takes no interest in public matters. What ought to be said is, that his interest in these will be purified, and that he will estimate them at their real value.
III. Again, it is a mistake to suppose that the childlike mind does not appreciate the great worth of human learning. Human learning, it is true, is but foolishness compared with the wisdom of the all-knowing God. But to cultivate our intellects is a duty which He has laid upon us. Indeed, there is nothing more characteristic of the simplicity of the child, than its desire to acquire knowledge; the simple child is always learning; only observe, that he learns the more because he is so fully aware of his own ignorance. And thus the Christian childlike temper in mature years will be quite opposed to that conceit of knowledge which genders pride.
IV. Our religion is not to be childish because Christians must be childlike. The true Christian is ever growing in the knowledge and love of God in Christ. The very test to which we are required to bring the reality of our Christianity is this: whether we be growing whether we be becoming more able to restrain ourselves, more devout, more able to realise the presence of Christ and hold communion with Him, as years advance.
A. C. Tait, Lessons for School Life, p. 283.
References: Mark 10:15 . B. Jowett, Church Sermons, vol. ii., p. 193; Homilist, vol. v., p. 198.
Supremacy of Goodness.
I. Consider the thought suggested by our Lord's remarkable address in the text. To the courteous and reverential words of the inquirer, His rejoinder sounds at once harsh and paradoxical. "Good Master" "Why callest thou Me good?" But it is only at first sight that there is anything difficult or surprising in the answer, "Why callest thou Me good?" We need not think of an impossible disclaimer of goodness in Himself, of an inconceivable denial of goodness, in some sense and measure, to men. Our Lord saw before Him one who had lightly and with a thin share of thought and self-knowledge asked his momentous question, and whose good intentions far outran his grasp of its meaning, and his power to face the answer. Our Lord did what we have often seen done. "Good Master, do you know what you are speaking about? have you thought of the meaning of your words? Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, that is God. You, who use the word so freely, you are wasting, as a mere title of courtesy, what is the highest attribute of God." The answer was addressed to two great deficiencies in the inquirer's character and mind. (1) His standard and level of goodness was too low and too conventional of what was good in himself, of the good to be aimed at, of the distance at which he stood from the fountain and model of goodness. And (2) his sluggishness of will and effort was unequal to the task on which he had entered, and the race which he professed to be running; and his mind and conscience had to be disturbed and alarmed by presenting before it the call that a real estimate and sense of what goodness means, would make upon it. To be what he proposed to be, to be what he asked about, to have that which he supposed he saw in our Lord, was nothing less than to aim at being perfect, as the Father in heaven is perfect.
II. But the Lord's words have a more general interest, and it lies, I suppose in this: that they are one of the numberless ways in which he enforced the same great lesson, of the supreme value in His eyes, of goodness, above everything else that man can aim at, or know, or have; above every other principle or endowment of our human nature. We see in these words the characteristic of his teaching, the broad, unqualified, unvarying assumption, that the measure and standard of everything in man's life and actions is that goodness by which, at however great a distance, he approaches the moral nature, his God and Father in heaven. And as with our Lord's own teaching, so with those great ideas and ruling principles which He implanted in the society which He set up to carry on His work in the world, and which that society was to develop and apply. As far as they relate to the estimate and conduct of human life, they revolve, so to say, about the idea of goodness, of sanctity. The idea of goodness had in Christianity a clear, sharp, decisive primacy, which it never had in any other system, and which surprised and perplexed the world. It had a very strongly marked pattern and standard, the life and mind and self-sacrificing love of the Son of God.
III. "Why callest thou Me good?" is the strange word by which our Lord awakens our attention to what we are too ready to think a truism. He who amid all that He was not of what men admire in this world was the unique and unapproachable example of goodness, speaks to us in it still, amid the absorbing interests of our busy and eager times. Our safeguard in the dazzling and amazing world of discovery in which we live is loyalty to goodness, loyalty to its supreme claims, loyalty to its Lord. Never let us allow ourselves in the thought that being clever and having knowledge makes up for not caring to be good. And let us remember, too, that the pursuit of goodness, the building up of character and life in that goodness which our Master meant, is as hard a thing as true intellectual discipline. It is as much a thing of patience and time. It is as much a thing which costs trouble and tries resolution. If goodness were merely the qualities which men are born with, brilliant and lovely, the qualities which each man without trouble and with pleasure exercises gentleness, love of truth, courage goodness would not be a thing which rises, by mistakes and falls and painful self-correction, to whatever may be its degree of attainment. But if it be the direction of the will to whatever we are sure is right and good, whether congenial or not, whether we like it or no, the student who means to be a master of knowledge may as well take his task easy, as the servant and soldier of the Crucified, in following his Master.
R. W. Church, Human Life and its Conditions, p. 1.
References: Mark 10:17 . Expository Sermons on the New Testament, p. 57; J. H. Thom, Laws of Life after the Mind of Christ, p. 164.Mark 10:17-22 . Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 558. Mark 10:17-25 . Good Words, vol. i., p. 92.Mark 10:17-27 . H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvii., p. 124.Mark 10:17-31 . H. M. Luckock, Footprints of the Son of Man, p. 220. Mark 10:20-22 . J. Martineau, Endeavours after the Christian Life, p. 265.
The dawn of manhood.
I. The facts which form the historical setting of the text are, the birth of hope and the guarantee of a large expectation of success, since they prove that Jesus has a kind and throbbing interest in, and a quick enduring sympathy with, men in the dawning of their manhood. "Jesus, looking upon the young man, loved him." That graphic touch of the artist biographer is a revelation. Jesus loves this young man. It was likely that He should. (1) He Himself is young; in the very fulness and freshness of His force, rejoicing in the unimpaired vigour of His life. Young souls are always social, averse to solitude, fresh in their sympathies, and intense in their zest of life. Christ and young manhood are as magnet and steel. They come together like drops of water that touch and hasten to coalesce. (2) Again, a common conflict knits heart to heart, quickens mutual interest and fosters brotherhood amongst the young. Our Master was in all points tempted as young men are. (3) His purpose and methods, too, fed His interest in, and increased His regard for young men. Jesus Christ came to create a new world, and therefore, as soon as He had given Himself to His transcendent task in that baptismal act in the river Jordan, He drew young men to Him by the magnetism of His own nature and sympathies, made them the recipients of His spirit, the exponents of His thoughts, and the messengers of His redeeming Gospel to the world.
II. Jesus demonstrates the old-world fact that a manhood, self-centred and self-contented, is a poor, withered, shrunken, and miserable thing. It is this patent fact that imparts such pungency to the direction Christ gives to this wealthy young ruler.
III. The Lord Jesus reveals the fact that the one infallible requisite for making the right start for a true manhood is the definite and thorough acceptance of the one perfect ideal of the manly life. "One thing thou lackest." What is the one lacking thing is revealed in the words, "follow Me." The supreme need of the soul is the Christ of God.
J. Clifford, The Dawn of Manhood, p. 1.
This young man presented some of the best and some of the. worst aspects of human nature; he may be regarded, therefore, as a representative man. (1) He displayed a degree of moral earnestness; (2) he employed the language of veneration; (3) he was well-instructed in Biblical ethics; (4) he was inordinately attached to worldly possessions. Christ's conduct in the case showed, (1) that He compels men to look at the logical consequences of their own admissions. (2) That personal regard may be entertained where full moral approbation cannot be expressed. Looked at as a whole the text shows:
I. The necessary limitations of the most careful religious training. The young man was no barbarian; the voices of the lawgivers and the prophets had resounded in his hearing, and he was familiar with the harp of the holy minstrels who had turned duty and sorrow, victory and defeat, into music; with practical theology, as pronounced in statutes and commandments, he was perfectly familiar, and even to practical religion in the life he declared himself no stranger. "All these have I observed from my youth." There may be the most careful training of the memory and most jealous watchfulness over the conduct among men, and yet the heart may not be the temple of God.
II. That the final attainment of education is the conquest of the heart. The young man knew enough; he was not perishing for lack of knowledge; light shone upon his intelligence; but his affections were self-enclosed and self-encoiled. There was one cross he could not lift, one surrender he could not make. Only one, but that was all. The conditions which Christ thus imposed show: (1) that Christ-following involves self-abnegation. Men cannot have a little of Christ and a little of self in other words, true men cannot combine public profession and private self-gratification. (2) That Christ-following must be the expression of the soul's supreme love. Men are not permitted to make a mere convenience of Christ. The young man loved his possessions more than Christ's word. There are men who are prepared to observe any number of commandments provided they can also hoard wealth and indulge passion. (3) That Christ-following means self-giving. Christ was the Giver, and men are like Him in proportion as they give. Giving is not yet understood as a test of discipleship. Giving is understood as a patronage, but not as a self-sacrifice.
III. That lack of one thing may be lack of everything. Conduct may be regulated in two ways: (1) by the brain; (2) by the heart. As with a watch so with the life. The face of the watch may be made to represent the truth by simply altering the hands, or it may be corrected by touching the interior works. So it is with human life: many seek to correct it by the outside; they seek for models, they inquire for footprints; but they neglect the life and spring within, and consequently never get beyond the affectation and artificialism, or the stiffness of Pharisaic conceit. These reflections may serve to show the tremendous danger of the fallacy, that if a man is right in the main he will be admitted into heaven.
IV. That the sincerity of men must be tested according to their peculiar circumstances. The young man had great possessions; consequently the test had relation to the worldliness of his spirit. What is a test to one man may be no test to another; hence the difficulty of one man appreciating the "cross" of another, and expressing intelligent sympathy. No other test would have met the peculiarity of this young man's case; he might have fasted long and prayed much, or even given liberally to the poor, but to sell all that he had was a test that shook his soul. The personal cross must be determined by the personal constitution. To one man it is no cross whatever to address a thousand hearers, yet to that very man it may be a heavy cross to speak a word for Christ to one individual. He is not, then, taking up a cross in addressing a multitude; his cross lies in another direction, and Christ points him to it.
Parker, Pulpit Analyst, vol. i., p. 181.
References: Mark 10:21 . J. Keble, Sermons from Septuagesima to Ash Wednesday, pp. 293, 303; E. Thring, Christian World Pulpit, vol. i., p. 137; H. Burrows, Church of England Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 353; Homilist, vol. vi., p. 333; Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 54; Homiletic Magazine, vol. xiii., p. 341; New Manual of Sunday School Addresses, p. 181; J. Vaughan, Sermons, 10th series, p. 69.
One thing thou lackest.
I. This young man, immortalised in the everlasting word, was not a phenomenon, he was a type. We see him so distinctly in his own question, "What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" Yes, here is enquiry, anxiety therefore, desire to be right, admission that there may be a higher height, a loftier attainment, than the life has yet reached; respect too, and reverence for one who is neither priest nor Rabbi nor ruler, who has neither rank, nor office, nor philosophy, nor oratory, but only the two things, sincerity and sanctity, to recommend him. This there is in the young man, and it brings him where all are welcome who would know and do; brings him running, brings him worshipping, and sets him face to face with Jesus Christ. Besides the spirit of enquiry and the spirit of reverence, there was a third thing in that character; a memory of morality, a habit of virtue. At the very moment that he is asking, What shall I do? his heart is saying within him, What lack I yet? He thinks, perhaps, when he asks that question, of some little finishing stroke, some last ornament and embellishment of perfectness, which may cost him an effort, but which at least need not undo nor unmake anything.
II. When Christ says to this moral young man, "Yet lackest thou one thing," we understand Him to say, "And that one thing is needful." He who puts it away from him, as either unnecessary for him or unattainable, counts himself unworthy of everlasting life. That which was lacking in the young man was, in one word, devotion; not devotion in the sense of devoutness, but devotion in the sense of self-surrender. The love of Christ stops not with gilding or refurbishing men, it sets open eternity. One thing thou lackest thy soul must be athirst till she has it union with the alone good One, the having Him in thee, the being at one with Him now and world without end. To have this thou must part with all else: in act, if Christ bids thee; in will, at all events, because Christ calls thee. The young ruler went away sorrowful. The love of Jesus was wasted upon him for this time, and the Gospels which tell of the going tell of no return. The moral, at all events, is thus written. It is not the second chance, it is not the late hope, it is not the last first, which is here recorded for our learning; it is the peril of refusing Christ's call, of saying to Him, "I will not," when He bids us follow, of preferring earth when He offers heaven.
C. J. Vaughan, University Sermons, p. 354.
I. The one thing which Christ sees wanting in so many of us is expressed clearly in the latter part of His words to the young man in the Gospel. He tells us, "Come, take up the cross, and follow Me." The words are figurative, we see, when He says, Take up the cross, and we may ask what the figure means. But we know that in the Latin language, the term crux or cross had been long used to express generally any great pain or evil; and the words crucio and cruciatus derived from it are yet used only generally; they do not express literally the pain or suffering of crucifixion, but pain and torment simply. And this manner of speaking has come into use, because the Romans used the punishment of crucifixion commonly, not only towards slaves, but towards criminals generally of the subject nations, unless they were persons of high condition. So that when our Lord tells the young man to take up his cross, it means exactly, "Bear thy pain or thy suffering, whatever it may be, and follow Me."
II. Christ calls us to take up our cross and follow Him. We were following Him, not taking up our cross; we were following Him where to follow Him was easy, and it is many times very easy. Do not go away grieving, when you hear Christ's call, because you are young, and faithful steady service of Christ will cost you many a sacrifice. Turn not from Him, but to Him much rather, with earnest prayer that He who bore His most painful cross for you, will enable you to bear your light one for His love; that He will help you daily, as your trial will come daily; that His strength may be made perfect in your weakness. And then, though the thing be harder than that a camel should pass through a needle's eye, yet it shall be done. The young, with all their carelessness, with all their difficulties from without as well as from within, shall enter into the kingdom of God; for so some have entered, and so shall some enter again, and so may all enter who do not turn away from the cross, but ask Christ's grace to help them to bear it.
T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. v., p. 246.
References: Mark 10:21 , Mark 10:22 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 50; R. Duckworth, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxii., p. 168. Mark 10:23 G. Huntington, Sermons for Holy Seasons, 1st series, p. 237.
The Perils of Wealth.
I. Note the hardness of Christian self-denial to the rich. Self-denial lies at the foundation of the Christian character. The influence of great possessions unfits men for any self-denial whatever. Few can resist the temptation of wealth to luxurious habits, modes of life that become more and more exacting. Pleasure is a tyrannous master; indolence is begotten of easy circumstances; reflection languishes while desire is nursed. It is so easy, too, to purchase Christian labour: "We will give and others will work;" thus many men seek relief from the call of Christian duty. This is the reason why many a man trained up in a godly home, and familiar with Christ's teaching, is yet not one of Christ's followers. He knows the Christian life to be a self-denying life, and he has wholly unfitted himself for self-denial; sadly, drearily, hopelessly he turns away. He cannot follow Christ; he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
II. Self-knowledge, again, is especially hard to the rich. The question of the disciples, "Who then can be saved?" expresses the common wonder. The glamour of wealth is upon us all, and we cannot see eternal truth. So easily do we flatter ourselves that where there is no uncomeliness of manners the heart must be right; and the rich are surrounded by flatterers. A man may go through life never knowing what is in him, if all his desires are gratified, and every one about him echoes his fond self-complacency. "Who then can be saved?" Well may the disciples wonder. Christ's latter words have only enlarged the circle of those who find it hard to enter the kingdom of God. Trust in riches is not confined to the rich. "If only I had a little more," say one and another, say almost all, "If I had a little more, what a different man I should be. My piety would so gain if I were delivered from my cares, I could serve God so fully if I had but a competency." It is the common feeling, the almost universal search. Since all are seeking to be wealthy, since all are showing their trust in riches, who then can be saved? Men are seeking possessions as if these could ensure everything; as if possessions were the highest end of life. And Christ looks round with tender, awful eyes and says, "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God."
A. Mackennal, The Life of Christian Consecration, p. 212.
References: Mark 10:24 . G. Macdonald, Unspoken Sermons, 2nd series, p. 26. Mark 10:26 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. vii., p. 129; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 302.Mark 10:28-30 . A. B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, p. 262.
I. A reflection upon the terrible danger of riches is the first moral of this incident. The disciples, indeed, more experienced some of them in the opposite perils of poverty, with its mean, foils and down-dragging cares and ready envyings, exclaim in astonishment, "Who then can be saved?" If the rich, with their tranquil days and easy fortunes, with every facility for the two virtues of honesty and of thankfulness, can hardly enter God's kingdom, how much less, surely, they whose whole life is trial trial of patience, trial of rectitude, trial of faith. Thus it is that each rank and each age and each character regards its own as the very chief of all difficulties and all hindrances, thinks any other class or condition better off for salvation, and asks in despondency, if not in recrimination, If that other, that opposite, can scarcely be saved, how can I?
II. But there was one disciple who, in those days of his ignorance and self-reliance, was ever ready to compare himself advantageously with other men, and who saw, in the example of this young ruler going away sorrowful, an opportunity of vaunting the opposite conduct of those who, like himself, had counted all things loss for Christ. "Peter began to say unto Him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed Thee." Our Lord begins His reply to this boast by a warm and generous recognition of the greatness and blessedness of their self-sacrifice. There is no man who has done what he has done, who shall not here and hereafter have his reward. "Now in this time a hundredfold in the world to come eternal life." We have here then, before us, as the principal subject, a magnificent view of the compensation of discipleship. Work done for Jesus Christ done in sincerity, done in simplicity, done in love shall not lack its reward. "A hundredfold now in this life, and in the world to come" who shall speak it?
C. J. Vaughan, Oxford Undergraduates' Journal, Nov. 1st, 1877.
An Hundredfold now in this time. We have here, as the principal subject, a magnificent view of the compensations of discipleship.
I. Some have talked slightingly of the sacrifices made by Peter and his companions. They are supposed to have had little to give up. A crazy boat or two, a few tattered nets that was their all. On the other hand, it does not appear that, at the time of this occurrence, their abandonment of home or employment was either final or absolute. After the resurrection the disciples are found in Galilee, resuming, at least occasionally, their old occupations. Nevertheless, they rightly regarded the call to follow Jesus as a call to give up everything for it. Never, again, would they be their own for a single hour. It was a true instinct which made Peter combine, in consecutive clauses and as equivalent phrases, the "left all," and the "followed Thee." An entire detachment from all that had made and been the old life was the very condition and meaning of the new.
II. This is the discipleship. Now for its compensations our Lord divides them. There is a compensation in the present, "now in this time." The nature of it is remarkable, "He shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands." The very language shows the promise figurative. We have read it, perhaps, as quite vague "Shall receive something instead, something which shall reconcile him to the loss of all these." An inward peace, suppose a sense of God reconciled an appreciation of the littleness of things temporal a growing, deepening apprehension of things invisible and eternal. Is there not something besides something more precise and more peculiar in this promise? Brothers, sisters, mothers, children an hundredfold each and all of these, now, in this time no mere equivalent, in the dim shadowy future, for the sacrifice of them here. There is a family no man can number it in earth and heaven, of which a man becomes a member when he becomes a Christian. God is its Father, Christ is its Head; holy angels are its elder brothers; saints, martyrs and apostles, all good men, dead or living, are its intimates and its kinsfolk; earth is its compass, heaven is its home; and whosoever believes in Christ, whosoever has the Holy Spirit in him, enters at once upon the affections and the sympathies of all these; extend, expand this kinsmanship through all time and all space, and you will see why Jesus Christ should say that the man who gives up, or is willing to give up, the natural wins a hundredfold in the spiritual.
C. J. Vaughan, University Sermons, p. 371.
References: Mark 10:29 , Mark 10:30 . Homilist, 3rd series, vol. i., p. 321; Expositor, 1st series, vol. ii., p. 245.Mark 10:30 . Ibid., vol. iv., p. 256.
The Great Refusal.
I. The gracious Lord loved the young man, but was not met with trustful, entire response. Why did He love him? Because He saw him as he was pure, enthusiastic, unspoiled, though unproved. It is a false and forlorn view to take of man, that there is nothing beautiful in him before he becomes saintly. The very attractiveness of an unredeemed soul makes us the more keenly desirous to redeem it. God may love a man whom He cannot yet trust; He may love a man who does not yet truly know, and cannot yet deeply love, Himself.
II. This rich young ruler was no selfish, corrupt worldling. He sought to have, perhaps to merit, eternal life. If we cannot merit heaven we cannot have heaven without merit. The youth would like to do something gloriously good, which he might wear as a rose at his breast, or carry as a heavenly decoration granted to him, an honourable courtier of the King of kings. He knew not that he lacked more than he had to give. He lacked the giving heart. He sincerely sought to be good; he admired, he revered goodness; but he thought to be good in a brilliant, easy manner. He had not strength to be good at the proposed cost.
III. Was he, therefore, excluded from the kingdom of heaven? It is sufficient to say that he was unable to follow Christ fully. Goodness has work to do, quite necessary, for which he was quite incompetent. But God does not reject what we can do because of what we cannot. Only, in the gradations of the spiritual realm, they who have borne the most, and been the bravest, will hold the highest places.
IV. As the test may not come to us, being rulers and being rich, so neither may it come in one hour, but may rather be applied through many a weary day. "Wilt thou be perfect?" is the question put to us. Having been invited by thy God, by His word that speaketh day by day, by thine own soul that has listened with delighted awe, to give thyself wholly to what will cost thee friends, and fame, and ease, and gain thee only an honoured grave and a heavenly home hast thou refused "Him that speaketh"? It is the Great Refusal.
T. T. Lynch, Sermons for my Curates, p. 175.
Christ on the Road to the Cross.
We learn from John's Gospel that the resurrection of Lazarus precipitated the determination of the Jewish authorities to put Christ to death; and that immediately thereafter there was held the council, at which, by the advice of Caiaphas, the formal decision was come to. Thereupon our Lord withdrew himself into the wilderness which stretches south and east of Jerusalem, and remained there for an unknown period, preparing Himself for the cross. Then, full of calm resolve, He came forth to die. This is the crisis in our Lord's history to which my text refers. The picture has not attracted the attention that it deserves. I think, if we ponder it with sympathetic imagination helping us, we may get from it some very great lessons and glimpses of our Lord's inmost heart in the prospect of His cross.
I. We have here what, for the want of a better name, I would call the heroic Christ. I use the word to express simply strength of will brought to bear in the resistance of antagonism; and although that be a side of the Lord's character which is not often made prominent, it is there and ought to have its due importance. We speak of Him, and delight to think of Him, as the embodiment of all loving, gracious, gentle virtues, but Jesus Christ as the ideal man unites in Himself what men are in the habit, somewhat superciliously, of calling the masculine virtues, as well as those which they somewhat contemptuously designate the feminine. We are to look to Jesus Christ as presenting before us the very type of all which which men call heroism, in the sense of an iron will, incapable of deflection by any antagonism, and which coerces the whole nature to obedience to its behests. Christ is the pattern of heroic endurance, and reads to us the lesson, resist and persist, whatever stands between us and our goal,
II. We see here not only the heroic, but what I may call the self-sacrificing Christ. We have not only to consider the fixed will which this incident reveals, but to remember the purpose on which it was fixed, and that He was hastening to His cross. The very fact of our Lord's going back to Jerusalem with that decree of the Sanhedrim still in force was tantamount to His surrender of Himself to death. He recognised that now that hour of which He spoke so much had come, and of His own loving will offered Himself as our Sacrifice.
III. This incident gives us a glimpse of what I may call the shrinking Christ. Do we not see here a trace of something that we all know? May not part of the reason for Christ's haste have been that desire which we all have, when some inevitable grief or pain lies before us, to get it over soon and to abbreviate the moments that lie between us and it. Was there not something of that feeling in our Lord's sensitive nature when He said, for instance, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished"? And may we not see in that swift advance in front of the lagging disciples, some trace of the same feeling which we recognise to be so truly human? Christ did shrink from His cross. There was shrinking which was instinctive and human, but it never disturbed the fixed purpose to die. It had so much power over Him as to make Him march a little faster to the cross, but it never made Him turn from it. And so He stands before us the Conqueror in a real conflict, as having yielded Himself up by a real surrender, as overcoming a real difficulty, "for the joy that was set before Him, having endured the cross, despising the shame."
IV. So, lastly, I would see here the lonely Christ. In front of His followers, absorbed in the thought of what was drawing so near, gathering together His powers in order to be ready for the struggle, with His heart full of the love and the pity which impelled Him, He is surrounded as with a cloud which shuts Him out of their sight as afterwards the cloud of glory received Him. There never was such a lonely man in the world as Jesus Christ. Never one that carried so deep in His heart so great a purpose and so great a love which nobody cared a rush about. And those that were nearest Him and loved Him best, loved Him so blunderingly and so blindly that their love must have been often quite as much of a pain as of a joy. And all this solitude, the solitude of unappreciated aims, and unshared purposes, and misunderstood sorrow during life, and the solitude of death with all its elements ineffable of atonement, all this solitude was borne that no human soul, living or dying, might ever be lonely any more. "Lo I," whom you all left alone, "am with you," who left Me alone, "even till the end of the world."
A. Maclaren, Christian Commonwealth, Nov. 11th, 1886.
I. There was something in the aspect of Christ, in the emanation of His spirit, which struck His disciples with a great awe. He had not yet spoken to them, but they felt what He had to say. But they were less than ever able to leave Him. Such awe was a magnetic spell which kept them within His circle. As they followed Him they were afraid, but if they forsook Him they were dead. "Lord, to whom shall we go but unto Thee? Thou hast the words of eternal life." Awful as the words sometimes seem, fearful as is the vision they open, let us hear them, let us enter into life by them. To turn from them is to enter into death the death which is eternal.
II. There are moments when we are amazed as we listen to Jesus, and as we follow we are afraid. I think that it is with us in our Christian lives much as it was with Christ; there are great broad tracts of serenity and sunlight, crossed by shadows of awe and dread. Remember, the life of Jesus Christ must have presented the reverse of a gloomy or repellant aspect. The Shepherd is His chosen character. "I am the Good Shepherd" uttered perhaps the deepest thought of His heart as to His relations to mankind. His words, His work, the spirit He breathed, were sweet and fresh as the fragrant meadows to the hot and dusty wayfarer of life. The main experience of a true Christian life should be joyful and hopeful, as things are glad that live in the sun. The elements of joy in our lot are abounding. The certainty of blessing is absolute. Nothing can harm us, nothing can daunt us, nothing can drive us to despair. But there are moments when thoughts and visions rise from deep springs within us and chase the joys. They may bury us in a gloom which yet is not chill and drear; which has a golden gleam of sunlight through it, chasing all its terrors away. There are moments when life in any form seems very solemn, very terrible, when we tremble before the vision of an undying existence, an infinite capacity of suffering or of being blessed; while we are conscious inwardly of fatal weakness, a deadly proneness to sin. Blessed, thrice blessed they, who in this dread crisis see the form and clasp the hand of Him who has trodden the path before them, and trodden it till it issued in glory.
J. Baldwin Brown, The Sunday Afternoon, p. 53.
I. Notice here the singular combination of the compatibility and the union of two apparently contradictory things; though they feared they followed, and though they followed they feared. The fear was not enough to stop the following, nor the following sufficient to arrest the fear. There was a love in the fear which kept them following, and yet a nature in the following which still left them fearing. It was the fact of the following which originated the fear. And fear is the strongest fascination. There is always a tendency to go to what we greatly fear. It is a principle true in love. There is fear in all true love. And the fear in the love makes a part of the fascination of the love. So the following led up to the fear, and the fear led up to the following.
II. That walk to Jerusalem appears to me strangely illustrative of the path by which many of you are going to heaven; Going to heaven! yes, you are going to heaven, but not enjoying all you might, or glorifying all you ought by the way. We come to the question, How is it that a real follower may be a real fearer? And I will find the answer on that road up to Jerusalem. Why did the disciples fear? (1) They had not adequate ideas of Him whom they followed. They did not know what they learnt afterwards what exceeding care He takes of His own, how by His suffering He was going to prevent their suffering, and by His own death to prevent their dying; they had not read the full character of Christ, therefore they misread their own future. (2) Though the disciples loved Christ, they did not love Him as He deserved. If they had done so, the love would have absorbed the fear; they would have rejoiced to endure with Him, even to the death. (3) They had not what their Master had one great, fixed, sustaining aim. It was that which bore Him so bravely, and that would have borne them. (4) The disciples had their fears undefined. It was the indefinite which terrified them. Take, then, four rules. (1) You that follow and are afraid, fortify yourself in the thought of what Christ is His person, His work, His covenant, and what He is to you. (2) Love Him very much, and realize your union with Him. (3) Set a high mark, and carry your life in your hand, so you may reach that mark, and do something for God. (4)
Often stop and say deliberately to yourself, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul?" and do not go on till you have got an answer.
J. Vaughan, Sermons, 1867, p. 53.
References: Mark 10:32-45 . A. H. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, p. 282; H. M. Luckock, Footprints of the Son of Man, p. 225.Mark 10:33 , Mark 10:34 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 52.Mark 10:35-38 . Homilist, 3rd series, vol. i., p. 177. Mark 10:35-40 . W. Romanis, Church of England Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 111.Mark 10:36 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iii., p. 12.
Prayers offered in Ignorance answered in Love.
I. Let it be admitted that the prayer of James and John was rooted in ambition, still we may not forget that their ambition was to be nearest Christ; nor can we fail to observe that there are some things in their conduct which are worthy of our praise, and may be imitated by us with advantage. (1) In the first place they did ask. Now that was a great thing. How many are there from whose lips no prayer ever ascends into the ear of God! It is a great matter when one goes to Jesus for anything, since, by and by, no matter what he begins with, he will be found going to Him for everything. Whatever be thy desire, therefore, go to Him. (2) These brothers had a definite purpose in coming to Him. When He said to them, "What would ye that I should do for you?" they were not taken aback, but they set before Him a distinct request. Herein, again, they were greatly in advance of multitudes who presume to be their censors; for is it not too true that our prayers are frequently most vague and indefinite? Men confess sins of which they do not feel the guilt, utter adorations which they cannot appropriate, and offer prayers so general that they may mean anything or nothing. We ask things which we do not want, and omit many which we really do desire. (3) These brothers were honest and sincere in their request? (4) They did not pretend to ask this in order to keep up the appearance of faith in Jesus and attachment to Him. They actually desired to have the positions for which they made request. It is a thousand times better to pray sincerely about matters which, though they be secular and small, are real to us, than to pretend to pray about spiritual things, which are at the time no better to us than myths; and it would be a good rule to lay down for our observance, never to ask for anything unless we feel that we truly need it.
II. But we are ready to ask, If all this be true, what was there to be blamed in the petition? And to this I answer that, apart from the earthly ambition to be above the other disciples, I cannot find much that was wrong about their prayer. (1) They wished to be beside Him in His glory, but they had a very false conception of what that glory was. (2) They did not understand what was involved in the granting of their request. If we will but remember these two particulars, we shall begin to comprehend why so many of our prayers are apparently unanswered, and why so frequently we fail to recognise answers to our prayers when they do come.
W. M. Taylor, Limitations of Life, p. 160.
References: Mark 10:38 . H. N. Grimley, Temple of Humanity, p. 30. Mark 10:39 . Christian World Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 93.
We learn from the text two great and important truths:
I. That the followers of Christ are not necessarily His friends or true disciples. In the multitudes who accompanied Jesus out of Jericho: (1) Some, doubtless, followed Him out of mere curiosity. (2) Some followed because it was just then somewhat fashionable to do so. (3) Some followed with a view to worldly advantage. (4) Such following of Christ is of no real or lasting advantage to these followers themselves.
II. The text suggests to us that among a multitude of Christ's followers you may generally expect to find some friends. Jesus went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great number of people. (1) This should encourage us to persevere in our own following. (2) It should encourage us in relation to other followers as well as ourselves, and lead us to do and say all we can to encourage them.
J. Morgan, Christian World Pulpit, vol. x., p. 389.
References: Mark 10:40 . Church of England Pulpit, vol. xviii., p. 145.Mark 10:46 . Homilist, vol. v., p. 52.Mark 10:46-52 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v., No. 266; H. W. Beecher, Sermons, 1870, p. 172; G. Macdonald, Miracles of our Lord, p. 103; H. M. Luckock, Footprints of the Son of Man, p. 230. Mark 10:46-52 . Christian World Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 364.Mark 10:47 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 53.Mark 10:47 , Mark 10:48 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi., No. 645.Mark 10:49 . T. Keane, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 81; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii., No. 1389; R. W. Evans, Parochial Sermons, vol. i., p. 172.Mark 10:49-50 . Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes: Gospels and Acts, p. 74.Mark 10:51 . Ibid., Three Hundred Outlines on the New Testament, p. 38; A. Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer, p. 71.
I. To see spiritually is to see Christ, the light of the world, and to be penetrated with the sense of the beauty and fulness which are in Him.
II. A soul enlightened sees in Jesus that which is all its salvation and all its hope.
J. Baldwin Brown, The Sunday Afternoon, p. 79.
References: Mark 10:52 . Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 415; B. F. Westcott, Expositor, 3rd series, vol. v., p. 456. Mark 11:1 . Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 136. Mark 11:1-11 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. i., p. 26; H. M. Luckock, Footprints of the Son of Man, p. 235; W. Hanna, Our Lord's Life on Earth, p. 372.Mark 11:3 . J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 10th series, p. 82.Mark 11:4-6 . S. Baring-Gould, One Hundred Sermon Sketches, p. 146. Mark 11:6 . A. Scott, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xx., p. 322.Mark 11:8-10 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. ix., p. 177.