You’ve Come, But Will You Stay?

He was rich. But something was missing. So he came to Jesus with a question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mk. 10:17).

Obey the commandments.

Done that. What else must I do?

Well, if you’re serious, sell your stuff, give to the poor, and follow me.

That was setting the bar too high.

He came, but he didn’t stay.

In John 6, a slew of Jesus’ disciples found his teaching too demanding: “many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”

They came, but they didn’t stay.

He turned to the twelve: “Do you want to go away as well?”

No! They came, and they stayed.

All but one.

Jesus began to explain to them that things were about to get dicey; he was going to be betrayed, condemned, mocked, spit on, flogged, and killed.

And here, he said, is what is going to happen to you: “you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death” (Matt. 24:9). Terrifying.

Maybe that’s what caused Judas to bolt.

The bar was too high.

He came, but he didn’t stay.

There comes a time when you, like that rich young man, feel that something is missing. You need answers. So you come to Jesus. But will you stay?

You may not be willing to give up what you have for what he offers, for here is what he offers:

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Mk. 8:34).

That doesn’t mean patiently bearing the pains and disappointments of life. The cross is for one—and only one—purpose: to die on. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: “When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die.”

Some of Jesus’ teachings are out of touch with the spirit of our times—or vice versa. A lot of people come to church these days to hear a message that will make them feel good about themselves. They don’t cotton to talk about cross-bearing and loving their enemies.

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Lk. 6:27-28).

That kind of sermon won’t draw a crowd.

Love your enemies …
Do good to those who hate you …
Bless those who curse you …
Pray for those who mistreat you.

Whew! That’s setting the bar pretty high.

Too high?

 (God) is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Lk. 6:35-36).

You’ve come, but will you stay?

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