Teaching Series
Short Stories with Jesus
Tuesday—Failing Faces

Series: Short Stories with Jesus
Message: Failing Faces
Preacher: Dena King
Reflection: David Oceguera​
Live Wonder: Jessyka Albert
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
Live Purpose: Jason Calvert
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Mark 10:17-27 in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions. 

Reflect:  “What must I do to get eternal life?” Mark 10:17 (The Message)

Do you remember there usually being one student at school who would always ask questions in class? The questions, however, were not really questions at all. Rather, they were lengthy comments designed to demonstrate how much the student already knew. We get the sense that this is what was happening when this man approached Jesus. We know this because he begins his conversation with Jesus by asking what he must do in order to “get eternal life” (Mark 10:18). Although it sounds like an honest question about faith, it was actually a thinly-veiled opportunity for this man to boast about his good works.     

Jesus responds by meeting this man where he was on his journey of faith. Jesus alludes to the Old Testament understanding that a person who obeys the law will live (Deuteronomy 30). The better a person was at following the law the more assurance they had that God would be merciful to them. Jesus, knowing where this man was coming from, answers his question by quoting the Ten Commandments. He says, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother” (The Message). The man’s jubilant response was, “I have kept them since my youth” (Mark 10:20). He had heard what he needed to hear and was ready to go along his way. But conversation with Jesus hardly proceeds as expected.     

This man was trying to show off his religious goodness in front of Jesus and His disciples. But before we rush to judgement about his expression of faith, we must consider that we often do the same thing. We also have a list of things we think we need to do. Perhaps our lists are not etched in stone and we may not even be able to articulate them but they are there. Our lists usually surface when we are judgmental toward others for not being “Christian enough,” or for being “too worldly.”     

I think we do these things because everything in our life is based on works. In school, the harder we study the better our grades will be. In our jobs, the harder we work the more assurance we have that we can keep our jobs. Everything in our lives is filtered through the lens of “doing” in order to justify our existence. Unfortunately we often transfer this understanding to our relationship with God. We try to earn God’s favor and grace in order to feel like we have done enough to remain in the group of the saved. The good news is that our assurance of salvation does not come as result of our own good works but the good work of Jesus. 

Recalibrate: Think about times in your life when you have tried to secure your salvation through your obedience. How might you change your perspective be obedient out of love not fear? 

Respond: Pray that God will help you express your faith out of love and not from a place of fear or obligation. 

Research: Read Matthew 6:5-6 and consider the implications what it means to be rewarded in secret.

Remember: “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” —Mark 10:27 (NIV)

David Oceguera is senior pastor of the Orange Seventh-day Adventist church in Orange, California. He and his wife Kara write a weekly blog called “In Pursuit of Love” which gives practical real life tools for healthier, happier marriages.

When the man in the story asked Jesus about inheriting eternal life, he seemed to already have an idea of what the answer was. When Jesus gave him the true answer, he went away sad. What is a question you have that doesn’t have a premeditated answer? 

Have you ever asked a “why” question? What are some of your best “why” questions? What would be a “why” question you would want to ask Jesus?


Why be a Christian? Deep down in your heart, do you somehow think being a Christian will help you be successful? Is it about what you need to do for wisdom, success, health, and wealth? Or perhaps you’re thinking that it’s a sort of “escape hell” card. Apparently, the successful dude in our passage this week thought similarly. He asked Jesus, “What must I do?” He’s looking for life’s secret sauce! Is a relationship with Jesus something to do in order to achieve your goals (either earthly or eternal)? According to Jesus, this thought misses the point completely. Perhaps it's not about what we do but about what He's done.

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