Have you ever been asked a question that seemed almost too good to be true? For example, if someone were to ask me “I have an extra ticket to the Penn State football game, would you be interested in going as my guest?” or “would you like to have a paid day off of work tomorrow?” I would probably end up asking to the person to repeat the question just to make sure I heard them correctly.
In our reading today, we read about Jesus being asked a question that seems like a soul-winner’s dream question. In Mark 10:17, Jesus is asked, “Good master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Essentially this man came running up to Jesus and asked Him what he had to do to go to heaven when he died. I don’t know about you but I’ve never had that occasion happen to me. Surely, Jesus would just take a few minutes and show this man that he was the Messiah, encourage him to place his faith in Him as Savior and rejoice with this new convert, right? Yet that’s not what happened.
Jesus began to ask this man some questions related to his knowledge of the law/Ten Commandments, to which this man quickly responded that he had kept all of those commandments since his youth. Then in verse 21 we read, “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.” Now what would you think if Pastor Dan had an alter call on Sunday morning and encouraged people to come forward and commit themselves to give their money to the poor so that they could have eternal life. I think most of us would run out the door, me included! Yet that is essentially what Jesus did. Why?? Because Jesus, knowing this man’s heart, knew that his life was all about his riches. His money was his god. And until he was willing to turn from his god of money to the true God, he was not ready for salvation. Yet the sad truth is that in many circles, this man would have been rushed into saying the “sinner’s prayer” and pronounced saved. But the truth we see clearly from Mark’s telling of this story is that you can not have your sin and the Savior. If you want salvation, you must be willing to turn from the sin that you hold closest to your heart. That does not mean you must stop sinning in order to be saved, but it does mean that your heart attitude needs to be one of a willingness to turn from that sin. May we follow Jesus’s example of making that very clear distinction in any witnessing opportunities we may have.