Close Encounters of the Spiritual Kind

Bible Book: Mark  10 : 13-31
Subject: Spiritual Encounter; Rich Young Ruler

The great popularity of a movie titled, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, reveals man’s fascination with being visited by those from outer space. Dr. Paul Lee Tan shares, “UFO expert J. Allen Hynek (1910-1986) developed the following scale to describe encounters with extraterrestrial beings or vessels:

Close Encounter of the First Kind—sighting of a UFO at close range with no other physical evidence.

Close Encounter of the Second Kind—sighting of a UFO at close range, but with some kind of proof, such as a photograph, or an artifact from a UFO.

Close Encounter of the Third Kind—sighting of an actual extraterrestrial being.

Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind—abduction by an extraterrestrial spacecraft.”[1]

Dr. Rod Mattoon writes, “A big deal is made about UFO’s and close encounters with aliens from other worlds. Mankind has had a close encounter with the Son of God. Jesus came from above to walk among us here and do God's will.”[2] In John 6:38-40 Jesus said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Jesus Christ coming to earth is a Scriptural fact not science fiction!

Mark 10:17-27 reads, “Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’ So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ And he answered and said to Him, ‘Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.’ Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.’ But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

Observation of the text is a valuable part of biblical interpretation. Observe several things from our text.

I. Observe the humble approach of this young man.

Mark 10:17 reads, “Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’” He was respectful and reverent. The question of this young man sounds familiar to the one asked by the Philippian Jailer, who asked, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30) Therefore, we could add, his question was relevant.

Mark 10:18 reads, “So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” While Jesus’ response appears to be a denial of His goodness, in reality He is upholding His deity. Jesus is God, the eternal God. Jesus never ceased to be God.

Mark 10:19 reads, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’” Jesus is not teaching the law as a plan of salvation, but using it for the purpose explicitly stated in Galatians 3:24, “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Romans 3:19-20 reads, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

II. Observe the honest accounting of this young man.

Mark 10:20 reads, “And he answered and said to Him, ‘Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.’” Rev. Herbert Henry Ehrenstein, former pastor of Bethany Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, (1952-1959) and author of many books to include, How We Got our Bible, comments, “He hadn’t, of course: no one has. But in his brusqueness, he genuinely thought he had. At least, he didn’t conduct a campaign to convince Jesus of how pious he was, as the Pharisee did in Jesus’ story: ‘I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”[3]

The young man appears to be honest in his accounting. He was no doubt sincere, but remember you can be sincerely wrong.

Mark 10:21 reads, “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.’” Remember, Jesus is not proclaiming another way of salvation. It is neither by keeping the law nor by giving your livelihood that you are born from above or born of the Spirit.

Ironically, Jesus tells a man who has everything, he lacks one thing. This one thing meant everything. Remember, your possessions are God’s and your possessions can become a god.

1 Timothy 6:3-10, 17-19 reads, “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. . . . Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

III. Observe the heartbroken assessment of this young man.

Mark 10:22, “But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” This young man concluded the one thing Jesus required of him came at too great a price. He felt it was too much to ask. There are many like him today, who think it is foolish to divest themselves of temporal riches to receive eternal reward.

Note, the love of Jesus does not compete with the Lordship of Jesus. Some think they can renegotiate the terms of salvation to prevent the loss of many good men and women. Beware of anyone who proposes a plan for church growth that presents a gospel without genuine repentance of sin and faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ for salvation. The love that Jesus had for this young man in no way diminished his need to come to Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Lord Jesus Christ deserves our love and loyalty.

Many people want to divide His offices, they want Him as Savior but not as Lord. Maybe you are thinking, “At least this man was not a hypocrite, like those who say, ‘Lord, Lord, but do not do the things he says’” (Luke 6:46). Let me assure you, it makes no difference, everyone who rejects Jesus Christ will go to hell, whether they are hypocrites or not.

Not only do we note his lack, we note his look. He had a sad affect. Henry G. Bosch (1914-1995) former editor of Our Daily Bread for Radio Bible Class Ministries from 1956-1981, shares the following, “Faced with this decision, the man failed to realize that his ‘great possessions’ were not his riches, but rather his eternal soul. [Mark 8:36-37 reads, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”] He went away sad at losing salvation, but satisfied if he might only save his silver.

As the spiritual is much more important that the material, we should put the emphasis where it belongs and call him not the ‘rich’ but the ‘poor young ruler’!”[4]

Mark 10:23-31 reads, “Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, ‘Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter 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 the kingdom of God.’ And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.’ Then Peter began to say to Him, ‘See, we have left all and followed You.’ So Jesus answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.’”


Dr. Vance Havner (1901-1986) shares the following: “This young man had some things in his favor. He did not come to oppose Jesus or to ask foolish questions. He had manners and morals and money and was one of the best prospects our Lord ever faced, if you go by our standards today. If he should try to join the average church he would be accepted and elected treasurer, with no questions asked. Our Lord seems almost severe in His attitude toward prospective disciples. . . . He did not reduce the price of discipleship when the rich young ruler appeared. . . . What would happen in our churches if we made such demands today? It would trim off the fat from our church membership and leave a vital core of Christians who mean business. It would eliminate status seekers who write out a check for the church, but live for the devil. It would dispose of a flock of worldlings who are not about to give up the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. . . . Salvation is free, but when a man becomes a Christian, he is not his own; he is bought with a price; he is sold out lock, stock and barrel; he belongs to Jesus Christ, bought and paid for with the blood of Calvary. There are many young rulers these days who walk too glibly down church aisles; they need to be stopped, shocked, and startled by the challenge of our Lord. . . .”[5]

Many have it backwards, they think they must get children to come as adults when Jesus says adults are to come as children. Mark 10:13-16 reads, “Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.’ And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.”

Recently it dawned on me that part of the problem in churches across the land, is that many have been instructed to love Jesus and to live for Jesus without being properly introduced to Him. Jesus properly introduced Himself to this young man. He did not allow this young man to continue following as a disciple with a mistaken notion about His identity. Make certain you believe in the biblical Jesus and not some New Age imitation. 2 Corinthians 11:1-4 reads, “Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” 1 John 4:1-4 reads, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”

Dr. F. B. Meyer (1847-1929) said, “Always distinguish between the words attain and obtain. We can never attain or earn God’s gracious help by prayer or service, but we can obtain, appropriate and take it. Learn to put your hand on all spiritual blessings in Christ and say, ‘Mine.’ How spiritually rich are God’s obedient and submissive children: ‘Heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him’ (Rom. 8:17).”[6]

2 Timothy 2:19 reads, “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’” Don’t be like the young man in our passage, repent of your sin and believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for your salvation. Salvation is the gift of God no man can earn it or purchase it. Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6b). It is impossible to be saved any other way! Beware of close encounters of the spiritual kind.

[1]Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times, # 13812. “Close Encounters With U.F.O.s,” 309, Database © 2004.


[2]Rod Mattoon, Mattoon's Treasures – Treasures from John, Volume 1, 117, Database © 2008 WORDsearch Corp.


[3]Herbert Henry Ehrenstein, “Plastic People,” Sermon Notes, (Mark 10:17-22).


[4]Henry G. Bosch, “THE POOR YOUNG RULER,” Our Daily Bread.


[5]Vance Havner, Moments of Decision: Guidelines for the Most Important Choices of Your Life, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979, 1985), 95-96, 99-100.


[6]F. B. Meyer, Our Daily Homily: Psalm-Canticles, Vol. 3, (New York, NY: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1898), 144.


By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on in hardcover, paperback and eBook] & / / (251) 626-6210

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