01 December 2009

Jesus' Use of the Law in Evangelism - Massimo Lorenzini

Our Lord Jesus provides us with a very simple and striking example how to use the law of God in evangelism in his confrontation with the rich young ruler.

The Rich Young Ruler, Mark 10:17-27(2)

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 to inherit eternal life?"
18 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
19 "You know the commandments, 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.' "
20 And he said to Him, "Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up."
21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for 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."
22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.
23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, "How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!"
24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
25 "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, "Then who can be saved?"
27 Looking at them, Jesus said, "With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God."

Jesus would have failed personal evangelism class in most Bible colleges and seminaries.

Our text describes a young man who looked like the hottest evangelistic prospect the Lord had encountered. He was ripe. He was eager. There was no way he would get away without receiving eternal life.

But he did.

Instead of getting him to make a decision, in a sense Jesus chased him off. He failed to draw the net. He failed to sign the young man up. Should we allow our ideas of evangelism to indict Jesus? Or might we need to allow His example to critique contemporary evangelism? Christ's confrontation of this young man gives us much-needed insight into reaching the lost.

The rich young ruler was, humanly speaking, an ideal prospect for conversion. He was young, had prominence (a ruler), was wealthy (v. 22), was moral, was enthusiastic for spiritual things ("came running"), was bold (out on the road, v. 17), he was respectful (knelt before Him, v. 17). On top of all this he was begging to know how to be saved!

Wouldn't any evangelist just love to open his Bible and show him the plan of salvation? The rich young ruler would make a fine trophy to the soul-winner. He was just ripe for today's decisional methods of evangelism.

But Jesus had the nerve to rebuke him, discuss the ten commandments with him, demand immense sacrifice, and then let him get away.

What was He thinking?!

Jesus had two motives for the way he handled the rich young ruler: (1) love for the lost, v.21; (2) even greater love for God, v.18.

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