I know you’ve had those days when life was so busy that, as we say, you could hardly tell whether you were coming or going. You were so busy that it wouldn’t have surprised you to meet yourself on the way out. There are so many comings and goings in our lives that revolve around people. And some of these moments are absolutely life-shaking. They are so significant that after they occur nothing will ever be the same again. For example, think of the day you first met that special someone, and you somehow knew that this was the person you wanted to build a life with. What an amazing life-altering experience!
Now think back with me to the time when Jesus walked upon the earth. Think of the many comings and goings there were of people in His life. Think of the lonely, the guilty, the outcasts, the sick, the bereaved, the blind, the weary, and all the despairing people, the shepherd-less crowds, who came to Him. Think of the change that characterized them by the time they left Jesus’ presence. They came to Him sad but left glad.
However there is one encounter pointed out in Mark 10 which, unfortunately, has a different outcome. Sinners come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. They could be as recognizable as temple-prostitutes, tax-collectors and drunkards, or they could come disguised as successful, young political-types. Just such a young man was so eager to see Jesus that he ran to meet Him and knelt before Him. In spite of his success and advantages in life, he seems obviously aware that something is missing. He asks Jesus, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” After agreeing on the law’s helpfulness to this end, the Master gives His insightful spiritual diagnosis. “Go, sell everything. Give all the proceeds to the poor. Then come and follow Me.”
He had run to Jesus in eagerness but departs in sadness. It seems clear that he didn’t expect the radical spiritual surgery Jesus prescribed.
Living as we do in rich America…and being in so many ways a rich American…this story troubles me. I want to believe that if Jesus required the same of me as He did of that young man, that I would do it. But would I? Would you? Jesus was not one to play with people’s minds or emotions. It was never His goal to make salvation more difficult for anyone. He requires this extreme action of the young man, because the young man was in extreme danger. Though he had come in eagerness, though he asked the right question, and though Jesus loved Him sincerely, he leaves the Lord’s presence in quiet sadness. So many others came to Jesus sad and left glad. But this one came to Jesus glad and left sad. He was unwilling to exchange his treasure on earth for treasure in heaven. He decided that he would keep doing life on those terms with which he was familiar. Jesus was fine and all that, but He would not be his Lord.
Listen, beloved, no matter what we get or have or keep in exchange for life, we end up going away from Jesus with chronic sadness. Don’t settle for that. Come with the sadness of your sins and leave glad that you have a new Lord. Come hungry and be filled. (Isaiah 55:1-2)
So…are you coming or going? Please come to Jesus!