#3 (THE "INVITATION FROM GOD" SERIES)
"COME AND FOLLOW ME!"
TEXT: Mark ~31; Luke -62
INTRO: Public surveys indicate that most people believe they are going to heaven! The fact that most Americans believe they are going to heaven caught the curiosity of a reporter from WMBI in Chicago. Walter Carlson decided to hit the streets with a microphone and ask people the next logical question, "How does a person go to heaven?" For over half an hour in the city's Union Station he asked this question and these were the most common answers he got:
"Obey the Golden Rule"
"Be good to your neighbor"
"Go to Church"
"Do good deeds"
"Pay your bills"
Few people got the right answer! God's invitation to "Come Follow Me" is known by most people, but most people are not listening to Christ's explanation on how they can come and truly follow Him.
PROP SENT: These two passages of Scripture will teach us that many people are not willing to follow Jesus when they really understand what the invitation really means. Yet, to those willing to follow, the supernatural power of God is ready to flow through them!
I. PRIORITIES! Mark 10:17-31
A. Desire 10:17-20
1. We are introduced to a rich man who is anxious to see Jesus – he comes running – in order to find satisfaction for his soul.
a. Matthew tells us this man was “young.”
b. Luke calls this young man a "ruler."
c. Mark tells us he is “rich.”
2. This man had everything this world had to offer; power, money, and youth!
a. Yet he comes running to Jesus ... it is obvious by his anxious attempt to get to Jesus that he was still missing something significant in his life, there is an emptiness to his existence that he cannot shake off nor fill from the stuff of this world.
b. Not only did he run to Jesus but when he got there he immediately knelt down to Jesus in front of strangers on the road in public! He is quite impatient to talk to Jesus about his emptiness and appears to be willing to humble himself!
c. It seems his desire to know how to be saved was sincere and strong!
3. As a rich man he was not used to waiting for things, perhaps this explains his impatience also, he is used to getting what he wants right away!
4. In his mind getting what he needed from Jesus was a simple matter of doing something, notice his question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Emphasis mine)
a. He assumes what most people today assume, that they can do something for God to let them into heaven!
b. His greeting of Jesus lacks understanding about Jesus' true nature, an issue Jesus will deal with first ... he simply addressed Jesus as “Good teacher.”
c. If Jesus is simply perceived as just another man, another “good teacher,” then the whole idea of salvation becomes a man oriented effort! This will have to be corrected first before Jesus can go on!
5. The Lord now addresses the issue of “who” He really is by asking the man why he called him “good” ... after all, only God can be called “good!”
a. Jesus is not rejecting the idea that He is God here, in fact just the opposite, He is trying to make the man realize that this is exactly who He is ... God! The man was correct to call Him “good” because He is God, but did the man truly understand this?
b. This was necessary before Jesus could explain how this man was to be saved, he needed to know Jesus is God and therefore to FOLLOW HIM!
6. With this issue settled Jesus now asks him about his knowledge of God's Word and how well he has done living up to it.
a. The man responds that he has kept the commandments of God from his childhood, yet he is still feeling empty, why?
b. It is interesting to note that Jesus does not challenge the accuracy of his statement that he had done all the right things, but this was exactly the barrier for this man ... his good works had given him a false sense of salvation, but he still didn't have a living relationship with God!
c. Jesus was opening this man's eyes to see that it wasn't just DOING something for God that saves, it is BEING something ... a follower of Christ that counts.
7. The man’s priorities in life were his problem ... he had put “doing” above everything else, as a hard worker he had gained great wealth and power ... but not salvation!
a. Jesus is about to challenge his priorities by asking him to do yet one thing more to prove how much he really wants to find salvation.
b. Obeying the 10 commandments was not enough, he needed a relationship with God first!
B. Decision! 10:21-22
1. Is this man's desire to find salvation greater than anything else? Jesus tests his priorities by asking him, "go sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, then come follow me." After all, he did ask Jesus "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
a. Is he as anxious to get salvation as he claims to be? This truly would test his true priorities!
b. Jesus was offering to make him rich in another way, promising “treasure in heaven.”
c. This would go deeper than just outward obedience, this would strike at what was truly in this man's heart – what did he truly love the most!?
2. It was interesting that in the early part of verse 21 “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”
a. Here is a truly “good man” ... one who obeyed the 10 commandments, who was realizing that things don't satisfy deeply, it was easy to love this man and he really was searching for meaning!
b. The real issue was how deeply he wanted to find salvation, how much is his heart controlled by these other worldly loves!?
3. Tragically his response to Jesus' suggestion is deep depression, he became very sad, and in fact he walks away from God – thus revealing that he was not yet willing to give up his love for this world's stuff to get spiritual stuff!
ILLUS: SOME HAVE BEEN SO WEDDED TO THEIR RICHES THAT THEY HAD EVEN TRIED TO TAKE IT WITH THEM IN DEATH: ONE MAN WHO WAS DYING TOOK AND SWALLOWED MANY PIECES OF GOLD AND SEWED THE REST INTO HIS COAT GIVING INSTRUCTIONS THAT HE BURIED WITH THAT COAT ON! ANOTHER, MADE HIMSELF THE HEIR OF HIS OWN WEALTH AFTER HE DIED IN HIS WILL ... HOW FOOLISH YOU SAY, BUT HOW MANY HAVE MADE THEIR WHOLE LIVES REVOLVE AROUND GOLD RATHER THAN GOD ALL THEIR LIVES!? -- SOURCE UNKNOWN
a. His love for earthly treasure was yet greater than his desire for heavenly treasure.
b. His heart is too captivated yet by what this world has to offer, to change priorities is too painful and costly after all, so he walks away from God – still a good man, but still a lost one!
ILLUS: YEARS AGO DURING THE GREAT ALASKAN RUSH TO FIND GOLD SOME MEN PENETRATED DEEP INTO ALASKA'S INTERIOR AND THEY NEVER RETURNED. AFTER A GREAT PERIOD OF TIME SOME OTHER MEN WHO ALSO TRAVELED DEEP INTO THE INTERIOR LOOKING ALSO FOR GOLD FOUND THESE TWO MEN'S HUT. AS THEY ENETERED THEY FOUND 2 SKELETONS SEATED AT A TABLE WITH LARGE QUANTITIES OF GOLD SITTING ON TOP OF THE TABLE AND ALL AROUND THEM. ON THE TABLE WAS A NOTE DESCRIBING THEIR SUCCESSFUL HUNT FOR GOLD, SO MUCH SO THAT THEY HAD IGNORED THE EARLY WARNINGS OF THE UPCOMING WINTER, THE MORE THEY MINED, THE MORE GOLD THEY FOUND, THEY WOULD WAIT JUST A LITTLE LONGER. A BLIZZARD CAME IN AND THEY WERE TRAPPED, THEY SOON DIED OF COLD, AND NO FOOD. THEY HAD FOUND THEIR GOLD -- BUT THEY HAD LOST THEIR LIVES! THEY HAD LOST TRACK OF THEIR PRIORITIES! -- SOURCE UNKNOWN
4. This man’s face fell at the price, he would have to make Jesus the top priority in his life! He was willing to live a good life, just not a godly one!
a. This is the same stance many people choose today, they are ok with just being “good” -- and they are willing to accept this over being “godly.”
b. This was just too high a price tag for his wallet!
c. Comfort of the soul took a second place to comfort of the wallet!
C. Discomfort! 10:23-31
1. Jesus now explains how difficult it
is for those whose priorities are placed on this world to come into the
a. The greater the passion for this
world's stuff, the more difficult it is to have passion for the
b. If he could have just added Jesus to his wealth he was willing, but to make Jesus more important than his wealth was going too far!
2. The phrase here, "How hard it is for the rich..." can also be translated, "How hard it is for those who have things to enter..." indicating that it is not just hard for those with monetary wealth but anyone who places a greater priority on this world and what it offers!
3. The rich man wanted salvation, but not at any cost! There are many people today who are taken with the idea of spiritual things, but they would not be willing to pay any price for true spirituality! And, like this man most of these people today are also good people!!!
4. The disciples are really blown away by these statements of Jesus, their surprised reaction reflected the common notion of that day (and this!) that material blessings were a sign of God's approval on someone! If it is therefore hard for good rich people to be saved then where did that leave them?
a. How we envy those who have much of this world’s stuff, we think they are happy and have God's blessings on them.
b. Not only was this guy rich, but he obeyed the 10 commandments ... and Jesus said he still was lost!
c. No wonder in verse 26 they are said at this point to be “astonished!”
d. Their whole concept of salvation was being challenged as well!
5. The disciples’ confusion basically went like this:
a. “If rich people aren't proof of God's blessings and approval and those who keep the commandments of God aren't proof either then it is impossible for a man to be saved!” That would mean a man could do nothing good enough to be saved!
b. AND THIS WAS EXACTLY JESUS' POINT! And so Jesus responds with “Right guys ... it is impossible for man, but not with God!” (A bit paraphrased, but accurate!) Verse 27
6. Only by throwing yourself and your priorities on the mercy seat of God can you find salvation! Jesus must become your priority and means to salvation!
a. This is a hard pill to swallow for many, so many people like the idea of salvation but they want it on their terms.
b. They are willing to be “good people” but they want to keep their priorities as they see fit!
c. They may be like this young rich man … they may come running to see Jesus at church or revival meetings … but they will not give their all to Christ!
ILLUS: THEY ARE LIKE PEOPLE WHO LIKE BEING IN A PARADE, WEARING A UNIFORM AND LOOKING SHARP, HAVING THE ADMIRATION OF THE CROWD AND MARCHING FOR A GOOD CAUSE. THE PARADE IS FINE, BUT DON'T SEND THEM TO WAR IN THAT SAME UNIFORM WHICH BRINGS THE POSIBILITY OF DANGER AND POSSIBLE LOSS. TOO MANY PEOPLE WANT THE PARADE, BUT NOT THE DANGER OR THE ACTION! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
7. All this of course woke these guys up and Peter is the first to speak: "Lo, we have left all, and have followed you."
a. He is looking for some assurance from Jesus at this point ... they are still stunned by all this new understanding!
b. Jesus does affirm their commitment, and then adds that the same commitment level is required by all, Jesus must be a priority for everyone!
c. Lest they misunderstand at this point and think that only poverty will result for those who make Christ a priority Jesus adds some interesting information in these next few verses:
8. Notice Jesus says here that for those who make Him a priority they will yet experience blessings in this life, Jesus says of those who follow Him that they will receive a “hundred times as much in this present age” – they will not lack for what is needed in life.
a. “Houses, family, lands,” etc ... we won't be starved or at full loss even in this life, our basic needs will be met and more!
b. But -- so that a prosperity doctrine isn't read into this Jesus also adds that they will also receive: “Persecutions!”
c. In other words, life will be filled with both blessing and tough times, but the final reward is eternal life! This goes to those who keep him a priority in their lives!
9. And so, in this context Jesus says that “the first will be last, and the last first.” Those who put Christ first in their lives will many times by this world be considered last but in eternity they shall be first, and those who put this world first in this life will find out that they are in last place in eternity! -- The point: MAKE THE RIGHT PRIORITY NOW!
II. PROCRASTINATION Luke 9:59-62
A. Delay 9:59-60
1. Here again Jesus is asking for those to “COME FOLLOW ME.”
a. We are introduced here to a man who Jesus calls to “come follow me.”
b. Again we find a man willing to respond to Jesus, in fact this man is ready to follow Jesus, he is not affected by riches like the other man, but he introduces a different kind of priority problem -- procrastination!
2. This man is not asking to go and bury his father right at the moment, if his dad had just died he would not have been talking to Jesus. According to Jewish law the death of parent required the children to make it an absolute priority to take care of the burial immediately, even breaking Sabbath laws were o.k. under these circumstances, or breaking other laws if needed, one did not do anything else but the burial. The fact that this man was on the road talking to Jesus indicates that his dad had not just died. Therefore his request to "first go and bury my father" was really "let me stay at home and when my parents are gone some day I will come and follow you."
a. This meant some unknown future date since he could not know when his parents would die.
b. In other words, when he is free from other pressing duties he will come and follow Christ someday -- he just doesn't know when, but some day! At this rate it could be very late in life and his whole life would prove to have been spent not serving God.
c. Once his home responsibilities are lessened, he will come and follow, at least some day!
3. Jesus' response almost seems cold, but what he is saying here is: "let the spiritually dead, bury the physically dead" implying that "death" is a quality they share together!
a. There is a greater life and death, and those who are already dead (spiritually) need life before it is too late! -- don't procrastinate and let them die while waiting to take care of a physically dead person!
b. Delay here would be costly to many more people in a way that would be worse than just physical death!
c. Jesus' statement was not a cold response to the need to bury a loved one. He knew this man's heart was to procrastinate following Him and so He was addressing that as the real issue!
4. Jesus knew this man’s real heart issue, if he used this excuse to not make a commitment now he would just as well later have another excuse!
ILLUS: A KING ONE DAY SENT FOR HIS JESTER AND PRESENTED HIM WITH A STICK. HE SAID, "TAKE THIS STICK AND KEEP IT UNTIL YOU FIND A BIGGER FOOL THAN YOUSELF." SOME TIME LATER THE KING WAS ON HIS DEATHBED AND HE SENT FOR HIS JESTER. HE TOLD HIS OLD FRIEND, "I AM DYING AND GOING TO ANOTHER PLACE." THE JESTER ASKED, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN ANOTHER PLACE? WHAT PROVISIONS OH KING HAVE YOU MADE FOR THIS JOURNEY AND THE PLACE YOU WILL LIVE IN AFTER DEATH?" THE KING HESITATED A MOMENT AND SADLY SAID, "I HAVE MADE NO PROVISIONS FOR THIS JOURNEY." AT THIS POINT THE JESTER HANDED THE STICK BACK TO THE KING SAYING, "I HAVE FOUND A BIGGER FOOL THAN MYSLEF THIS DAY, FOR I ONLY TRIFLE WITH THE THINGS OF TIME WHILE YOU HAVE TRIFLED WITH THE THINGS OF ETERNITY!" THE KING HAD PROCRASITNATED TOO LONG! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
5. This man represented the statement of Jesus when he said, Mat "For many are invited, but few are chosen." He was putting off and delaying when he would follow Jesus! There are lots of people doing this today too.
B. Decisive 9:61-62
1. This second man was different in that he wasn't seeking a permanent delay like burying a family member, just a reasonable delay that seems just long enough to say good-bye to his family.
a. Here again is a man that seems willing to follow Jesus, and he makes a reasonable request, but this request hides an issue in his heart that Jesus realizes is blocking his way to Jesus and so Jesus challenges it!
b. This man's request demonstrated to Jesus a certain reluctance to make a decision and stick with it.
c. Though this wasn't going to be a long delay like the other man his reluctance like to come right now may indicate a pattern of change of heart later too!
2. The man’s real problem was in being decisive -- he was reacting reluctantly.
a. If this man was reluctant to obey immediately and wholeheartedly now he will likely respond this way in the future as well, his test then is to avoid the reluctant nature of his request by not going home to say farewell!
b. Certainly Jesus is not unreasonable, this request to not go back and say farewell was designed as the test for the real issue of this man’s heart, not a doctrine to avoid our loved ones at all cost in following Jesus!
c. This was this man's issue ... he wasn't willing to make a decision when Jesus asked, he was postponing it until later! It was a milder form of procrastination, but a deadly form nonetheless!
3. Jesus' response to this man's
reluctance indicates that Jesus knew this man's reluctance now could be a
problem later if allowed to stand, thus He said to him, "no one who puts
his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the
a. Lack of decisiveness will cause him to come and go on all kinds of occasions.
b. Jesus' call to follow is not an “off-on” game ... it is permanent!
c. This man didn't need big excuses to fall away or to stall, small ones like "let me just say good-bye to my family" is all he needed to delay making a decision, if he can’t choose on in an easy time this would prove to be no good when things got tough following Christ!
4. Jesus' invitation to “COME FOLLOW ME” was an immediate one, without delay! “TODAY IS THE ACCEPTED TIME.” Those who would hesitate now might well do so later too!
5. While these 2 men were better than the rich young man who would not change his priorities, they were no better off in the end if they procrastinated following Jesus now. In a sense they too had their priorities wrong and the same loss would be felt by all!
6. How have you responded to Jesus' invitation?
CONCLUSION: Jesus' invitation to "come and follow me" must not be taken lightly! It is not an invitation of convenience, but of total commitment! It is also an invitation that demands an immediate response, not a future response! Following Jesus means not only adventures in glory but also adventures in adversity! This invitation is a working one, how have you responded to Jesus’ call to come and follow Him?