1 The smiling face is a symbol of happy life and the dollar sign is a representation of wealthy life. If you could choose between the two, what would be your choice?
2 Why did you make this choice?
3 What constitutes a joyful life according to your opinion?
17As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.
19You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:17–27 NIV)
1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.
2 Circle the attitude and knowledge of this person concerning Jesus Christ.
3 Box all the commandments of God and “One thing you lack,” and use an arrow to connect both verses (Mark 10:19, 21).
4 Use a yellow highlighter to underline “and come, follow Me.”
5 Use straight lines to connect “the kingdom of God,” “saved,” and “for all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:23, 24, 25, 26, 27)
2) “Expound” (E)
iEXP Bible Study Method
Are there any conflicts between faith and wealth? Can a follower of Jesus Christ be rich? What is the connection between wealth and happiness? Dear friends, do you know how to answer the above questions?
1 Why did this person call Jesus Christ “Good Teacher” (Mark 10:17)?
2 Can a person be saved by obeying the Law (Mark 10:20)?
3 Is this person with great wealth happy (Mark 10:22)?
4 Is this rich man a pious person according to you understanding (Mark 10:17-22)?
5 Why it is so hard for rich people to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:24-27)?
The other Gospels not only state that this man has possessed wealth, but he is also a young ruler (Matthew 19:22; Luke 18:18). In other words, he is a young and impetuous person who possesses money and status. Many might envy this person’s wealth, identity and status; however, this man has not attained eternal life yet. In other words, this man has not received eternal blessings or real happiness. For the sake of obtaining eternal life, he ran and knelt before the Lord. The above action speaks of his attitude to search eternal life are very eager, sincere and humble. Out of respect, this young man called Jesus Christ “Good teacher.” The author of Mark speaks of eternal life is being received instead of being inherited (Mark 10:15). The young man with wealth and status misunderstood that he could attain eternal life by his own good works; obviously he was poisoned by Jewish legalism.
To the Jews, only God was preeminently good (1 Chr 16:34; 2 Chr 5:13). The young man called the Lord Jesus good teacher, but the Lord asked a question in reply, saying, “Why do you call Me good?” With this reply, Christ did not disclaim His goodness or deity. By deduction, He might use this question to make this person reflect: first, it tells him not to address anybody in a careless way, and it also reminds him that only God is good; second, when this person calls the Lord Jesus good, does he really believe Jesus Christ is from God?
The Lord Jesus turned around and made this man to focus on God’s Ten Commandments. Before this person, Christ quoted the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and fifth commandment successively. Interestingly, these are commandments about human relationships. There is no “Do not defraud” in the Ten Commandments. It is very likely that it is a supplement to the eighth and ninth commandments (cf. Deuteronomy 5:16-20), as it is applicable to wealthy people. Strangely, Christ did not mention the tenth commandment, that is, “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbour.” (Exodus 20:17). The motive of defraud can be out of greed; therefore, the quotation of “Do not defraud” is equivalent to the teaching of the tenth commandment.
According to the Jewish custom, a twelve years old boy becomes a “son of the Law,” namely he is responsible to keep the Law. After the Lord Jesus finished reviewing these commandments with this man, the instant reaction of this man with reputation, status, wealth, authority and youthfulness was that he had already kept all these things from his youth up.
The Lord Jesus loved this promising young man, but this kind of love was not based on this man’s response or merit. Evidently, this young man did not understand the essence of keeping the commandments. The greatest defect of this man was that he did not fully trust God. Christ sincerely pointed out the problem of this person. There are a few important points worthy for our attention: Firstly, the Lord Jesus did not teach salvation by good works. Secondly, the Lord did not demand all of His followers to sell all their possession and give to the poor; this challenge is directly aimed at this person’s spirituality. This man is self-righteous and self-dependence; therefore, he did not fully depend on God, and money had become his personal god in a disguised form. Thirdly, to follow Christ is the expression of commitment and dependence to God.
The expression and response of this man speaks of his greed for money is still above everything else. The demand of the Lord Jesus seemed to be very great and unreasonable, but in fact, He addressed to this person’s inner problem. The Lord Jesus loved this person, hoping he would have eternal life and real happiness; however, the god in the heart of this person obstructed him to attain heavenly blessings.
The Lord says, “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.” A Bible scholar infers that “the eye of a needle” is a very small entrance of a city gate in Jerusalem. If the entrance of the gate was closed, a loaded camel could not go through. However, that gate was only built in medieval times. In simple terms, there was no such city gate in the times of Jesus Christ. The needle mentioned here was actually a sewing needle, and other interpretations were just mere speculations. Jesus Christ grabbed the opportunity to teach His disciples, using an exaggeration to point out the common problem of rich people. Owing to the greed for money, it is hard for many people to attain eternal life!
After knowing that it was hard for rich people to enter the kingdom of God, the disciples asked the Lord who could be saved then.
No one can save themselves at all. According to the teaching of the Bible, sinners cannot use their merits to exchange for salvation. God employs the method of salvation by grace (justification by grace). Only by means of God’s grace, human beings can be saved.
By referring to the context of this passage, the Lord Jesus pointed out that only those with the pure mind of children can enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:13-16). Children do not own anything and have nothing to depend on. The rich man solely relied on his own strength to keep the Law, hoping to attain eternal life consequently; furthermore, the greed for money has bound him up that he could not follow Christ. Therefore, the pure faith of children and the self-centredness has become a sharp contrast. The attainment of happiness is definitely not from money, but by following Christ.
3) “Exercise” (X)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 One cannot attain salvation by solely depending on one’s strength (Mark 10:19). Only by the grace of God, human beings can acquire a seat in heaven by receiving the redemption of Jesus Christ on the cross.
2 Money can hinder an unbelieving friend to receive the salvation of Jesus Christ (cf. Mark 10:22), and it can also become the obstacle of spiritual growth of Christians.
3 To follow Christ is the core of Christian faith and it is also the key to the spiritual formation of Christians (cf. Mark 10:21). In other words, to follow Christ is the starting point of salvation and it is the indispensable way to spiritual maturity of Christians.
4 Memorise Mark 10:22-23.
22At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:22-23)
5 Unbelieving friends must resolve to see if money is the cause that obstructs you to trust in Christ. Believers must resolve to see whether or not money has hindered our spiritual growth.
6 Resolve to acknowledge the Lord is the source of my joy and satisfaction, and by relying in God’s grace, I will not let possessions and circumstances to dictate my mood.
4) “Proclaim” (P)
By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.
iEXP Bible Study Method
After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.