Have You Come For 'The Benefits'?
"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?'” Mark 10:17 vs 21: "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.” In telling him to "take up the cross," he clearly means that there will be a cross for anyone who wants to follow him and they have to be willing to take up their cross . This was too much for the man, and he went away sorrowful. For years, this has been one of the most difficult passages in the Bible for me to understand. It has always seemed to me that Jesus was being unfair. WHY did he not run after the man and explain things more clearly? Why didn't he put it in a way that would enable the man to make a more educated choice? Why did he ...just let him go? It's because the Lord does not want people to follow him out of greed. Think on that a bit. The rich young man saw the works Jesus had done and was drawn to such a miracle-worker. He was so impressed that he wanted to follow him, and asked Jesus if he could. Jesus would have welcomed him, but he first gave him instructions about his life ...which the young man did not want to fulfill. He was rich. When Jesus told him to part from his riches and to take up his CROSS and follow him, this is where they parted ways. Aren't the "benefits" the reason most people are first attracted to God, the one who can solve their problems and save them from hell? And surely he can. But when he first gives them an instruction to test their commitment, many will think it too difficult to follow through. In this young man's life, it was his riches. In your life and mine, it will be something else, and that something else will reveal a person's motive for wanting to follow Jesus Christ. On the day I was called, Jesus came into my livingroom and said to me, "Forsaking all, come follow me." His words pierced deeply into my heart, and my heart responded even before I had a chance to think about it, "YES, LORD!" But in the years following, I would time and again have to "forsake all" and I found it very costly. VERY costly. And this point must be made to anyone thinking about having an intimate walk with the Lord ...the fact that it will be costly. And so now, years later, what have I lost? What would I change? Would I make the same choice now, knowing what I know and having lost what I've lost? I'll answer that as Peter did. There is a passage in which Jesus said something to all who were following him, something that no human being could understand, one of the "hard sayings" of the Lord. And at that saying, most left him. And Jesus just ...let them go. They had made their choice. "From that time many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more." John 6:66 Then Jesus, true to character, turned to the twelve and asked if they wanted to leave too, another of his astounding statements - offering his willingness to let even his chosen ones go if they wanted to, and giving no explanation for what he had said. vs 67: "Then Jesus said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?'” This was a turning point for Peter, because he had no more understanding of what Jesus had said than the ones who left. Yet Jesus stood there waiting for his answer, offering no clarification or understanding to him. And Peter said, vs 68: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” IF you want to follow Jesus, IF you want to invest your life for your eternity, this is the cost to you: it has to be the acceptance of whatever the Lord says to you even when he says it with no clarification. You are free to refuse him, and your refusal will not cost you your salvation because Jesus Christ took upon himself the horrific judgment on your sins, that debt has been paid and as long as you believe in him you are saved, your salvation is not being questioned here. What is being questioned is whether or not you are willing to take up your own cross, no matter what that will cost you, and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, investing your life for your eternity. That's a choice that only you can make, and no one is going to run after you to try to explain it further, to help you make a more educated choice, no, it's up to you to accept or reject the call to follow him. But if you accept ...I can say as one who has ...you'll never regret it. "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ..." Philippians 3:7-8