The Cost of Following Christ
Mark 10:17-31 speaks of Jesus’ encounter with the Rich Young Ruler; other references to this event are Matthew19:16-21 and Luke18:18-22. From this passage of Scripture, I wish to make, to draw out, six (6) observations and/or applications.
Firstly, this young man “reached out” to Jesus. Mark 10:17 says “As 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?" Very commendable as a young adult; as a young male adult. An important example for some of our youth adults to follow.
Secondly, he “touched” Jesus with his commitment. Mark 10:20-21 “‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy. ’Jesus looked at him and loved him.” He had good present commitment – clearly above average, one would say- and good potential for future commitment.
Thirdly Jesus presented him with the challenge of Total Commitment. Mark 10:21 “Jesus 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." Jesus outlined the following to him: The Cost- The one thing you lack - will cost you - the surrender of all that you presently have! The Challenge – “Then come, follow me.” The Consideration - Note carefully that this total “give away” that Jesus was asking for was not a “throw away”, but an investment “and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven”. This meant an investment of the earthly for the heavenly, of the present for the future, of the temporary for the permanent and of the “seen” for the unseen.
The Response of the rich young ruler, however, was No. This young man was not prepared- was not willing - to move from his good partial commitment to Total commitment at that price! His response of “no” was conveyed by this countenance. Mark 10:22 “At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
At the young man’s response Jesus did not seek to persuade or pursue him further, contrary to so many churches and Christian organisations today. Their thinking seems to be, if you cannot get total commitment why not gratefully take/ accept partial commitment! At least something (some commitment) is better than nothing.
For instance, if you cannot get the commitment of church membership gratefully accept regular church attendance – don’t upset the people. If you cannot get a regular commitment to give, gratefully accept the special offering given from time to time – don’t preach on giving to the Lord’s work- don’t squeeze the people. If you cannot get a commitment of leadership be satisfied to accept a commitment of involvement – don’t push the people.
But Jesus did not then - and has not to this day- dropped or lowered or adjusted His standard or His requirement of Total Commitment. According to Luke 14:33 “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be (Greek: ou dunamai = is not able to be; does not have the power to become) my disciple.” In Luke 9:62 “Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." He tells us, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). God’s standard, His requirement, is still Total Commitment.
Jesus has not dropped His standard because it is the minimum required to truly build the His Church. It is the minimum required to win God’s war against the evil forces in this World (Luke 14:26-33). It takes Total Commitment to build an ark for 120 years believing God’s word concerning rain, when no-one have ever seen rain before (Hebrews 11:7).
It takes Total Commitment, according to Hebrews 11:8-9, for “... Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.” It takes Total Commitment to face a Goliath all by yourself and come back alive (1 Samuel 17:42-48). It takes Total Commitment to go to a cross and die (to shed one’s own blood) for the sins of others (Hebrews 12:4) “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” It takes Total Commitment to leave your homeland of Trinidad and Tobago to spread the gospel in a tribal village in Guinea, West Africa for over twenty (20) years as IVCFers, Ronnie and Heather Yearword, are current doing. It takes Total Commitment! Partial Commitment is good, but for what God wants to do and needs to do and needs to accomplish, Partial Commitment is not good enough!
What Jesus was looking for, wanted from this promising young adult and challenged him for, was to make – the Investment of Total Commitment! Where the Rich Young Ruler said “No”. Saul of Tarsus – later called Apostle Paul, another young adult, said “Yes”.
Note his words in Philippians 3:5-9 “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”
Feel his passion Philippians 3:10-11, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
See his drive in Philippians 3:13-14 “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” It is about Total - 100 Percent (%) – Commitment made via a 100% Investment of yourself, your abilities and talents and your possessions.
However it is a 100% Commitment made via a 100% Investment to receive a 1000% return – vss. 29-31 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied “no-one who have home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for Me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields) and in the age to come, eternal life.” One hundred (100) times is equal to a 1000% percent return! This is the best investment offer on planet earth today!
Partial commitment is good and promising- can even inspire love for that person (Jesus loved the young man). But for God’s plan and God’s purposes to be fulfilled in your life, partial Commitment is good but not enough. The one thing you lack - will cost you - the surrender all that you presently have. Are you ready to commit?
The Rich Young Ruler said “No”; The Apostle Paul said “Yes” to the Investment of Total Commitment. What is your response?