I am only 55 years old, and yet I spend a large amount of time thinking about the hereafter. Do you? It’s funny because I can’t get it off my mind! When I am in the car I think about the hereafter, when I am at work, when I am church, when I go into stores…….. I think about the hereafter! I am obsessed! The other day I even went into the bathroom and said to myself, “Okay, what did I come in here after?”
Mark 10:27-31 (TNIV)
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With human beings this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” 28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–along with persecutions–and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
The disciples asked Jesus in verse 26, “Who then can be saved?” in response to the point that Jesus was making to the rich young man about giving up the idol of his wealth in order to gain eternal life. The point Jesus was making was that in reality, it is not only the rich that find difficulty. Why, because salvation is not at all possible from the standpoint of achievement…… or from a human standpoint for that matter. Salvation, eternal life, is only possible by the grace of God. We cannot find salvation through our achievements, wealth, power or position. It cannot be earned. God gives us salvation as a gift. Salvation is offered to ALL people equally! It doesn’t come by merit, but rather by humbly coming to God, indeed, by humbly coming to Jesus.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (The apostle Paul speaking)
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Peter, always the bold one, exclaims to Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you!” What is an important note for us is what Jesus says in response: “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–along with persecutions–and in the age to come eternal life.”
I want to point out something very important:
Following Jesus has both its benefits as well as its sacrifices……benefits BOTH in THIS age, in our lives now…..as well as eternal benefits. In other words, following Jesus is as much about the here and now, today……as it is about after we die on this this earth. The kingdom is indeed present here and now. Salvation starts the moment you make a decision to follow Jesus and the path extends into eternity.
This question may come to mind? Why must we endure sacrifices or persecution in this age, this age of the kingdom of heaven? The answer is rather simple. God, indeed Jesus, looks at our heart not simply our decisions (legalism). It is important that we don’t selfishly follow Jesus simply for our own rewards. Jesus wants us to adopt the truth of life, the attitudes that lead to true fulfillment in this life and the next.
SO…..here once again is the answer to the question posed by the rich young man, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”: We must submit to the authority and rule of Jesus in our lives, making Him our top priority. We must give up every idol that keeps us from our faith in Him. And remember, salvation is a journey that starts at the moment you make the decision to follow Jesus. For each person, the sacrifice may be different. What are your idols?
Here is the key: For some, money is an idol. For others, it isn’t. For some position, or job is an idol. For some it isn’t. For some, pride is what gets in the way of following Jesus, for some it isn’t. The big question is this, what is it in your life that keeps you from truly following Jesus?
Now here is the good news: Jesus want’s our hearts. As we seek Him and as we resist the idols of this world…indeed we find Him and we gain so much in this world as well as in an eternity with Him. Yes, there are sacrifices along the way. But the rewards are great!
Jeremiah 29:13-14 (TNIV)
13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity……
Look closely at verse Mark 10:31, “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” The world often has its priorities and standards backward. In the kingdom of God, indeed, in the kingdom of heaven…….the values are often reversed. Those who serve are true leaders; humility is valued above self-pride, honesty and integrity above “whatever it takes to get ahead or to get what one wants”.
So….no matter how old you are, when you ask yourself, “What did I come here for?”…….you will now have the answer……”Jesus!”