Mark 10:17-31 – NLT
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honour your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said. “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”
Continuing to keep these before us as we go through this passage:IS THERE A SIN TO CONFESS? IS THERE A PROMISE TO CLAIM? IS THERE AN ATTITUDE TO CHANGE? IS THERE A COMMAND TO OBEY? IS THERE AN EXAMPLE TO FOLLOW? IS THERE A PRAYER TO PRAY? IS THERE AN ERROR TO AVOID? IS THERE A TRUTH TO BELIEVE? IS THERE SOMETHING TO PRAISE GOD FOR?
This story has always challenged me a bit. I see this guy coming to Jesus and Jesus responding to him very differently than we would think he should. He does not beg the guy to come to him. He does not run after him. He simply tells him what it is really going to cost him, if he wants to inherit eternal life. I don’t see Jesus saying to him, “Just repeat this prayer after me.”
I personally wonder how much we have compromised truth to get numbers. Jesus was not concerned about the numbers He wanted genuine followers. Genuine followers who will do whatever he requires to experience all that he has for them.
I can’t get away from what Jesus lays out for this man to guarantee his eternal life. Jesus does not say, “do your best and I will make up the difference.” He does not say, “follow a few of the rules I have laid out and all will be well.” He says, “this is going to cost you everything. The thing you consider the most valuable in your life, you need to lay it on the altar (or in his case, give it away.”
I don’t know about anyone else but in the culture I have been raised in, I have often heard people imply that God would not ask certain things of you. I have been told that God doesn’t expect you to give everything, but if I were to talk to this man, he would have a different perspective. Jesus told him, “Your riches must go.”
I don’t necessarily think that God was telling him that His riches were wrong, but possibly was challenging this man to lay everything down as a willingness to surrender in this life what he would not take into the next. We hold on to things too tightly and they will in some cases cause us to give up the next life for the comfort of this one. The cost is immense.
Jesus was asking of this man, are you willing to sell, give, and follow? Are you willing to hold onto loosely, share with gladness, and do that which I will do. Jesus did not come and offer a part of himself. He gave everything. He is asking the same of me.
I find these studies very challenging. If we let them they really expose the heart.
Today, I confess the sin of holding on to things too tightly. Jesus wants everything. He wants no distractions in my devotion to him. For this man it was money, for me it is comfort and reputation. The approval of man. I must not hang onto those things, the cost is too great. Only His approval counts when I stand before the audience of One.
There is an attitude that I also must change. The attitude of anything I give God is good enough. This is not true. We excuse ourselves. God doesn’t want my excuses, He wants my obedience.
Jesus is my example. His love covered me. My love for him needs to lead me to surrender all to him.
I praise God for His mercies which are new every morning. Great is His Faithfulness. I do not see this journey as a heavy burden, but as a journey of love. His love enables me to obey and honour him with my life and choices. His love empowers me to lay my gift of surrender on the altar and to walk away a changed woman. His love covers me when I fail, but also gives me the grace I need to rise and follow fully.
I lose nothing. Freda only gains both in this life and in the next when she learns the value of letting go of the things she often holds onto so tightly.
He really is an amazing God.
Susan Craig says:January 21, 2014 at 6:05 pm
Every day these readings challenge me to rethink what it means to be a Christian,a follower of Christ. God has been showing me areas in my heart that need to be dealt with and it is humbling indeed. The world says life is all about going somewhere,getting something,always reaching for more,more,more. Never being satisfied with what we have -there is no end to the wanting,getting,pushing,shoving,working hard -but what for? Temporary things that we can not take with us when we die. I have yet to see a hearse with a Uhaul behind it. Jesus’ challenge to this rich young man is just as relevant as it would be if he was talking to us today. Our western culture is based on money/finances. It has invaded our churches to the point that it has seeped into our mindset more than any other temptation to sin has. I personally have been quite disillusioned with this fact as it seems that everything in life comes down to money-money has become our god and our master. And what a taskmaster it is. It has us running the treadmill of life-it is the reason we get up out of bed to go to work to make more of it so we can pay for our houses,cars,basic necessities and much,much more. I was asked once- How much is enough?? When do we ever have enough?? The answer is never ,it seems that way, at least if we are honest about it. It is the American/Canadian dream. Husband,wife,careers,2 children,2 vehicles,houses,garages,vacations,and so on. We do not even want to admit that most things we strive after are wants and not needs. We have been so infiltrated by our modern culture that we are not even aware of what it is that keeps us so busy ,frenzied, exhausted… Where we spend our time,energy and money shows where our hearts really are. I must confess that I had been in that mindset for so long that I didn’t even realize what it was doing to my spirit/soul. I grew up in a poor family with parents that worked hard but did not have a high school education. It limited their choices in life. I was told that the sky was the limit for my generation-I could have it all-a good education,a career,a husband and children,financial stability etc and I bought into it hook, line and sinker. That same message is being hammered into us and mostly our children as I write this. But what was not told to me was what it was going to cost me. It would cost me my health because of the stress of being on that treadmill,my children who were given way too much and did not have to work for it,my husband who could shirk his rightful place as head of the home to put more and more responsibility onto his wife,my extended family who I had to move away from in order to find the work that we needed to do so we could buy more and have a better standard of living but most importantly,it cost me my relationship with Christ as I relied more and more on my own strength and on my own ability, and the almighty dollar! Jesus was right in His assessment that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for people who trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of heaven. As we read earlier,what shall it profit man if he gain the world but lose his soul-what can we give in exchange for our soul?? Can we buy our way into heaven?? Why are we living our lives as if this is true???
Life stopped for me a few years ago and slowly and painfully,I was brought back to the reality of what I had been placing my trust in and God opened my eyes/heart/mind to see that no matter how much I had, how much I did, it was never enough to fill that God shaped hole in my life. It was not feeding my soul. The sad part about it is that I honestly thought I was doing what God wanted me to do with my life. I was living in a lie that satan, the world and my flesh fed me and I believed it. That lie would be still be feeding me if I hadn’t been forced to stop and listen to what God was trying to tell me. Roadblocks God allows in our lives are always at crossroads where we need to stop and make a decision as to which road we are going to travel on-are we going to travel on the wide road that most people are on or will we choose the narrow one that is much less travelled by. Whatever road we travel on in life will determine our destination. The popular wide road leads to destruction. The road less travelled on leads to heaven. Take time to examine where you are at this moment in time-which road will you take????
Sue says:January 21, 2014 at 10:44 pm
What am I holding onto that I consider to be more important that a relationship with Christ? I’ve been following Christ for a long time (so I thought). I’ve given up more than I had to start with (right???)! Nothing has ever meant more to me than Him (yeah, sure).
I hope you noticed the ‘tongue-in-cheek’ sarcasm in the above statements. An honest examination reveals the ‘stuff’ I tend to hold on to … the ‘important’ stuff. What about the times I’ve walked away from situations where I knew I should have been a Christian influence, but I didn’t want the ridicule? And there are the times I’ve closed my eyes to those in need because of my perceived needs (which were merely wants when I was honest with myself). And the times I’ve spent with others or involved in other activities when my spirit was aching for more time alone with my heavenly Father. The list could go on but it would suffice to say that I, too, have found comfort and the opinions of others to hold a higher priority than the One who gave everything for me.
The thing is that Jesus knows what it is going to take to effectively follow Him … Him & Him alone. And until I empty myself of everything else that would compete for prominence, He is not going to have the place to work in me that is required. I love God and His word has assured me that He loves me … if I don’t know it by now I should. But even that isn’t enough. Today’s scripture says that this young man revered and loved Jesus. I don’t think this was an idle whim on this man’s part. I believe he had thought out his decision to have God’s kingdom as his end goal. He had just heard Jesus reprimand those who tried to come between Him and the children. He had most likely heard of the stories of the healings and the displeasure of the religious sector. Still he came with reverence and humility and knelt at Jesus’s feet. He recounted that, through obeying the commandments, he had been preparing for this day his whole life. This grabbed Jesus’s heart and Jesus loved him too much to allow the young man to believe that adhering to the law was enough.
I can put myself loosely in the shoes of this young man. I can’t claim perfect adherence to the law but I have tried to live right. I have lived a life of loving Jesus. But there are areas that I have held back from Him … my time, my attention, my devotion, my strength, my reputation, my finances … at one time or another. I wish I could say that I have it made now … that I have become the perfect follower of Jesus. My sin is that I spend too much time following me rather than Him. Jesus made many promises if I were to follow Him … persecution, ridicule, a cross to carry, treasures in heaven, eternal life and most importantly … His abiding presence in my life. He knew I couldn’t endure the first three without the last one … Him. His promises are truth. The command … “follow Me”. My prayer is “May Your kingdom come. may what You want to happen (in my life) be done on earth as it is done in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 – Parenthesis mine). I give Him praise for His grace and forgiveness.
There are two examples that stand out to me and are worthy as a life pattern:
1) The first is that of Jesus in John 5: 19 … “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
2) The second that of the Apostle Paul. “Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.” Philippians 3: 8-9 (Message)
Susan Craig says:January 22, 2014 at 12:50 am
Powerful comments Sue-they have me really thinking hard on this day`s message. Do you think it is possible to follow Jesus as fully as He seems to be requiring here-even with the help of the Holy Spirit-or will we have to wait til heaven to finally arrive at this point in our christian walk. He says we will receive 100 fold return now of everything we gave up plus persecution-I get the persecution but have never thought about the 100fold increase as being in this life but in heaven. How literal do we take the word NOW-not sure what he means by that
Pat McRae says:January 22, 2014 at 12:02 am
I am so glad I live today after the finished work of Calvary. Eternal life is mine because in my heart I believe Jesus is the Son of God, borne of a virgin, crucified for my sins, risen again and coming again, and with my mouth I declare He is my Lord and Saviour.
But am I different from this young man? Am I willing to give up everything to follow Jesus? I have looked at this young man in the past and wondered what Jesus would ask me for today. I think no big bank account, no house to sell, old van (but God’s gift to me :), no jewellery really nothing of value, so what would He ask for.
Maybe my reputation, am I willing to be known as different even maybe weird because I follow Jesus’ ways and not the worlds’. Maybe my voice to speak out against the injustice or contrary ways of others. Yep, I wonder how often I have made Jesus sad when I couldn’t give up my rights to allow His love and mercy flow though me. I am sure I still value some things too much and even though I would like to point a finger I can not. I am sure there is something in my life God would like me to surrender that I have not.
Thank You Lord for showing me Your love for me even when I am unable to surrender all. Holy Spirit thank You for not giving up on me while You help me learn to release those things that hinder my walk with God and Father thank You for a knee to sit on and an arm that surrounds me as I struggle to submit to Your ways. I am so thankful that Love covers my multitude of sins.