Mark 10:21 – Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
The call to be a follower of Jesus is seen in its fullness through Jesus’ interaction with the “rich, young ruler” (see also Matthew 19:20 and Luke 18:18). The four main elements of discipleship are all present in this story, coupled as inseparable pairs: repent and believe, self-deny and follow.
The young man had a sincere question about entering God’s kingdom (10:17). Jesus knew the man needed to understand that goodness is not mere human achievement. True goodness is based on God’s perfect character (10:18-20). The young man claimed to have demonstrated obedience to various commandments, but Jesus exposed his idolatry (10:21, Exodus 20:3). Jesus revealed that the man’s real god was money (10:21-26).
Salvation is beyond human merit; God saves by his grace. “Grace” is what God does for us that we could never do for ourselves (10:27). Trust in self-righteous achievement paired with love of temporary securities make it impossible for anyone to enter God’s kingdom. The likelihood of salvation for such a person was not as easy as a camel, the largest animal in Israel at the time, to pass through the eye of a common sewing needle, the smallest opening (10:25).
The young man would not abandon his empty lifestyle to gain eternal life (10:22). Thus, he was not saved. He would not forsake temporary treasure to obtain eternal treasure. Thus, he was no disciple. The man went away sorrowfully and full of himself. You must go and empty yourself of false hope before you can come and take up eternal life with Jesus (10:21, see also Mark 8:35).
Who then can be saved? Only those who repent and believe, that is, those who turn aside from their self-righteous achievements and put their full, unreserved confidence in Jesus alone for rescue from their sin. Are you saved? If not, will you turn to Jesus in full confidence of faith that he alone can rescue you from sin’s penalty of eternal death? Admit to God that you are a sinner and that your only hope is to receive his forgiveness! The decision is yours, but the truth is unmistakable. If you walk away from Jesus you will only become grieved and sorrowful.
Who then can follow Jesus? Only those who deny themselves and take up the cross, that is, by turning away from the ungodly strongholds of temporary trust and by demonstrating acceptance of and submission to God’s will and ways. Are you a follower of Jesus? Have you publicly committed to trusting him by submitting to his will and ways? If not, you’re missing out on the hundreds of blessings available in this life as well as the joy of having treasure in heaven (10:21, 29-31).
Will you surrender all and follow Jesus or will you go away grieved? I encourage you to commit your life to Jesus and to follow him faithfully.
Daily Reading: Mark 10:17-31
Bible Reading Challenge: 10 Days on Discipleship