What possesses you?

15 08 2008

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?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ” And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” 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.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17-22)

Here is a sad case. A young man came to Jesus, expressing great respect and openly looking to Him for answers. Both his physical posture (he ran to Jesus and then knelt down before Him) and his words (calling Him “Good Teacher”) indicate tremendous affection and reverence. Yet, when it was all said and done, this young man walked away from Jesus, sad but unchanged. Jesus demanded of him more than he was willing to give. His love for the “great possessions” of the world had more of a hold on his heart than his professed love for Jesus Christ.

Have you ever considered how inadequate a verbal acknowledgement of divine truth and an outward expression of love for Christ are, apart from complete surrender to Him?

Here are some observations about the young man in mark 10 from the writings of Stephen Charnock…

This man addressed Christ with a profound respect, acknowledging Him more than an ordinary person, with a more reverential carriage than we read any of His disciples paid to Him in the days of His flesh; he fell down at His feet, kissed His knees, as the custom was when they would testify the great respect they had to any eminent person… He seems to acknowledge Him the Messiah by giving Him the title of ‘Good,’ a title they did not give to their doctors of the chair; he breathes out his opinion, that Jesus was able to instruct him beyond the ability of the law; he came with a more than ordinary affection to Him, and expectation of advantage from Him, evident by his departing sad when his expectations were frustrated by his own perversity.

Think about this carefully. What were the outward signs of affection and reverence that this young man showed toward Jesus?

  1. He held Christ in high esteem and great respect
  2. He bowed down to Christ and kissed His feet
  3. He owned Jesus as the Messiah, sent from God
  4. He sought to be instructed and taught by Jesus
  5. He expected to receive assurance of salvation from Him

Yet none of these things were indications of saving faith in the young man’s heart. It’s not enough to revere Jesus, or to worship Him outwardly, or to profess belief that He is the Messiah, or to seek instruction from Him and expect to receive spiritual comfort from Him. All of these things are done by many who, in spite of their outward display of admiration for Christ, do not love Him more than they love the world. When Jesus exposed his divided heart, and required him to give all of his possessions to the poor and become His disciple, the young man went away sad, “because he had many possessions.”

Charnock continues…

What was the cause of his refusing the instructions he pretended such an affection to receive? He had possessions in the world. How soon do a few drops of worldly advantages quench the first sparks of an ill-grounded love to Christ! How vain is a complimental and cringing devotion, without a supreme preference of God, and valuation of Christ above every outward allurement.

The young man in Mark’s account was, in fact, possessed by his possessions. He refused to have his heart possessed by Jesus Christ. How does it stand with your heart and soul today? Are you willing to surrender all that you have in order to follow Christ and become His disciple? Do you profess love and respect for Him, when really your heart belongs to another? What is that one thing which, if Jesus required you to surrender it, would make you sad? Whatever it is, determine right now to lay it down at the feet of Jesus, and make Him the one true desire of your heart and satisfaction of your soul. Only then will you know the unspeakable happiness and joy that comes from God’s free gift of salvation.