Friday, August 31, 2012

Everything to Follow

Last week Jon shared a lesson on how we find ultimate fulfillment in God alone and last night, JJ Pyche continued that idea with a message about the cost of following Christ.

He started out with a harmless, joking question like "How much would we pay to graduate school right now with a 4.0 and not have to ever go to class again?". Everybody was on board when the price was into the 5 to 500 dollar range, but dropped pretty quickly when the price was bumped up to 5,000.

Then JJ asked a more serious question: "How many years of your life would you give up to have a perfect life?". How many would you give up if you could have the car, house, and family of your dreams, if you could go anywhere you wanted, if you could have the perfect career?

What cost would you pay to have eternal life? What is that worth to you?

We looked at Mark 10: 17-34 to understand exactly what Jesus says it costs to inherit eternal life.

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?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” 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.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left 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—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

This guy that came up to Jesus has a lot of things(he's super rich and successful and well known), but he's shown to be so desperate for answers to a meaningful life that he humiliates himself by falling on his knees (a Jewish culture thing).

You know the good Christian answers that everyone is supposed to say in Sunday school? Ironically and comically, this is the answer that Jesus first gives to this guy in verse 19. Most of us wouldn't think twice about "living a good life, following the 10 commandments, and going to church on Christmas and Easter so that you look even better"...but Jesus here is trying to help this guy see that he's not living the life he thinks he is living. 

Just when the guy thinks he's set for eternal life, Jesus adds something. Because, as Mark importantly added, Jesus had compassion and tells the guy the truth (more than the generic bible school answer).

In verse 21, Jesus tells the man to sell everything he has and give the money to the poor, then follow Him.

But check out the underlying wisdom in what He said. Jesus told him to do this because He knew the man was failing at not coveting wealth(10th commandment there for those of you who don't know). This guy's whole identity was wrapped up in wealth and his understanding that wealth was a sign of God's favor. He was completely mistaken and he was living for the wealth instead of living for God. Jesus was being subtle and not completely calling this guy out in front of everyone, but the man knew what He was hinting toward.

Jesus is pointing out that this guy's works are not working for him.

Jesus told His disciples that it's hard for the rich (not just materially wealthy, but rich in any way) to enter Heaven because they have a tendency to put their identity in their "things", rather than in God. The entire point of this story in Mark is that Jesus says if we give up our idols, He has something even better for us (Like giving up 5 dollars in exchange for a college degree).

In verse 26, Jesus finally answers the man's question on how to inherit eternal life.

He simply says "come and follow me". This is actually deceptively difficult.

What does it mean to follow Jesus?

Well, following someone means doing what they do. We are to do what Jesus did. And in verses 32-34 Jesus is telling His disciples about His imminent crucifixion. Basically He's telling these guys "Hey, if you are going to truly follow me, you're going to have to die." If we want life, we are actually going to have to die.

Usually for us in a first world, largely Christian country, we die figuratively. We become what the Bible refers to as living sacrifices. We are to give up all our idols and identities. We have to die to ourselves and our desires in order to follow God's will for our lives. But in a lot of other places, this can mean a literal death.

Jesus is telling us "if you give me you're life, I will give you mine".

So on one hand, eternal life will cost you everything, but when we get Jesus' life, we realize that the "everything" that we spent our lives doing and chasing was really nothing. On the other hand, eternal life costs us nothing, it's free. The life God gives you overcomes death.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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