What are you willing to give up to be a follower of Jesus?
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17–22)
The man who came to Jesus is someone we would consider “good.” If he was in your military community, he would attend chapel and might serve as an usher. He would be squared away as a leader and would live his life by good and honorable principles. He would have a chest full of medals representing his wealth of experience over multiple deployments and years of sacrificial service to his nation. He looks forward to the day he will retire comfortably on his military pension. He comes to Jesus and asks what he has to do to have eternal life. Perhaps he is feeling a bit empty, even nervous. Surely there must be one more thing he can do to be certain.1 Jesus tells him that to receive eternal life he must give up his medals, his service, and his military pension, and follow him. The man walks away grieving because his medals, his service, and his military benefits are his identity and his security.
What are you willing to give up to be a follower of Jesus? The rich man who approached Jesus thought maybe he just needed to add something to his already noble activities. He wanted Jesus to say “add this one thing,” but instead Jesus said to give up everything.
Jesus does not make this direction to selling everything into a blanket requirement to following him, nor was he saying all his disciples must live in poverty. But the actions of Jesus emphasize that eternal life is not something we are able to obtain by virtue of our possessions, strength, wisdom, or authority. Dedication to Christ and his mission is not just something to add on to the other things that are important. The challenge of Jesus to those who would follow him is total commitment.2
Put yourself in the place of the person who approached Jesus. How would you respond to his requirement for achieving eternal life?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, help me count the cost of following you and empower me to serve you faithfully. Amen.
1 Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012), 199.
2 Morna D. Hooker, The Gospel According to Saint Mark: Black’s New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 242.