IT IS WORTH IT TO FOLLOW JESUS
As the summer Olympics rapidly approach, we will be impressed once again with the sacrifices that these young athletes have made to try to achieve Olympic gold.
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The path to becoming a champion is paved by great sacrifices.
They say it takes hours and hours of practice to become proficient. Many researchers suggest that it takes 10,000 hours. If you practiced your art for 2 hours every day it would take you 13.7 years to reach this mark.
Question: “What was one of the biggest sacrifices you had to make in order to get to the top?”
Responses from some of the greatest athletes:
1) Bart Conner – USA Olympic Hall of Famer and World Champion on the Parallel Barshttp://1tljmj43yo4m291xrgtfdtsq.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Bart-Conner.jpg
“The key issue is for me is that I never saw any of it as a sacrifice, just choices. So, I never felt that I was missing something, only that I chose something else.”
Bart is one of the greatest gymnasts to ever compete in the Olympics. He was a member of the gold medal-winning men’s gymnastics team at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games where he won an individual gold medal on the parallel bars.
2) Kristine Lilly – Professional American Soccer Player and Most Capped Men’s or Women’s Soccer Player In The History Of The Sporthttp://1tljmj43yo4m291xrgtfdtsq.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Kristine-Lilly.jpg
“I’m not sure I would call it sacrifices that I made to be the best I could, or more so just choices to want to play for my country.
I always put my training first. Whether it was cold outside and snowy, I still found a way to get a work out in. I always wanted to make sure I was fit enough to be ready to go into training camp with the U.S. national team. I did miss a lot of family functions and birthdays but my family was so supportive we made up for them in other ways. Going after your dream takes a commitment and lots of support and hard work. I had all those pieces to be able to play for the U.S. for over 23 years. I enjoyed my career and all I put into it and got out of it…”
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Rich young ruler came to the conclusion that it was not worth it to him to follow Jesus.
IT IS WORTH IT TO FOLLOW JESUS
I. (:28) SACRIFICIAL COST OF CHRISTIAN COMMITMENT
“Peter began to say to Him, ‘Behold, we have left everything and followed You.’”
“Behold” – calling attention to what he is now saying
“we” – in contrast to the rich young ruler
A. What Have We Renounced to Follow Jesus?
“we have left everything”
1. Earthly Possessions
2. Earthly Relationships
3. Earthly Status and Security
Still had a boat and a house …
B. What Have We Suffered by Virtue of Identifying with Jesus?
“and followed You”
Perfect tense – the following still continues on
1. Material Suffering in the Form of Deprivation
Jesus does not have a place to lay His head
2. Emotional Suffering in the Form of Unjust Attacks
From mocking, unjust criticism, attacks
3. Physical Suffering in the Form of Persecutions
Constable: Peter, speaking for the other disciples, was still thinking in physical rather than spiritual terms. He turned the conversation back to the subject of giving up all to follow Jesus (v. 22). The rich young ruler had refused to forsake all and follow Jesus, but the disciples had done just that. “We” is emphatic in the Greek text.
Matthew’s gospel includes the rest of Peter’s question – assumed here by Mark:
“What then will there be for us?”
Borgman: Not unspiritual to be motivated by reward
God made us with capacity to enjoy His creation and we are driven by the things we enjoy;
What do we desire most? This determines our decision making;
Our ultimate problem is not so much that we think wrong or choose wrong; but that we desire wrong – God changes our desires in regeneration
Matt. 13:44 – kingdom of God is like a treasure found in the field; a man discovers it and then for joy sells all that he has and goes and buys the field
John 6:35 – Jesus is the bread of life – come and eat and you will be satisfied and have great joy
Jer. 2:13 – insanity of sin – exchanging riches of holiness for crummy stuff
Rich young man chose acres of dirt over riches of Christ;
Cf. child choosing nickel over a dime because it is bigger; no concept of value;
Heb. 11:6 – you must believe that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him;
II. (:29-30) SUPREME COMPENSATION FOR CHRISTIAN COMMITMENT
A. Christian Sacrifice Acknowledged
“Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake,’”
Jesus does not minimize or try to dismiss the sacrifice involved
Only looking in this context at sacrifice in association with following Jesus and proclaiming the gospel and seeking to advance the kingdom of God
High motivation involved – “for My sake and for the gospel’s sake”
Sproul: Years ago, I became involved in a particularly furious theological battle, and it cost me a number of friends, friends who were very important to me. I became quite depressed about it. But one night, in the midst of that controversy, I thought of one of the lines in Martin Luther’s great hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” That line says, “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also.” This is what Jesus calls us to do. He said, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). . . In that kingdom, the only thing that will matter is faithfulness to Christ.
No exceptions to what Jesus promises here
B. Short Term Reward
1. Rate of Return
“but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age,”
not pie in the sky when you die
Analogy: hard work and sacrifice of sowing a crop is forgotten in the joy of the abundant harvest that is reaped
Jumps from their thinking in physical terms to the more abiding spiritual realities
Not a justification for some kind of “Name it, claim it” guarantee of physical wealth and riches
Analogy — Financial planning for retirement – pretty meagre rate of return on investments; just want to be protected and not lose everything
2. Currency of the Reward
“houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms,”
What is the nature of the reward; in what does it consist; how is it measured; what does it look like; how real is it
Chiastic structure: physical blessings – dwelling places / relationships – same generation / relationships – multiple generations/ physical blessings – income producing
You cannot have left more than 1 house and 1 farm; blessed with multiple – in fact one hundred fold
Lawson: New relationships:
Mark 3:35 “For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”
Rom. 16:13 – mother of Rufus is also my mother; had cared for Paul during his ministry
1 Cor. 4:15 “in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel”
1 Tim. 1:2 “To Timothy, my true child in the faith”
Calling one another brother and sister in Christ
3. Inevitability of Suffering
“along with persecutions;”
Unwelcome part of the benefits package – but necessary – presented here as part of the benefits package
We share in the sufferings of Christ
Jesus did not hide this reality from His followers; told them up front – no small print in the contract
If they hated Me, they will hate you too
Phil. 1:29 – it has been graced to you to suffer for the gospel
2 Tim. 3:12 – inevitability of suffering persecution
Acts 5:41 – they left after being flogged; rejoicing because they had been judged worthy to suffer for the sake of the name
Persecutions will come, they are a benefit; they accrue to your reward in heaven; Christ’s community has always been a suffering community
Edwards: noteworthy since it is the only negative term in a list of blessings. Its presence in the list reminds disciples that Christian existence is not utopia, and Christian faith is not an insurance policy against adversity and hardship. Not only is this generally true of discipleship, but the presence of “persecution” likely held special meaning for Mark’s congregation in Rome that suffered so profoundly under Nero’s persecutions. Their sufferings – and all suffering that results from faithfulness to the gospel – are not a sign of divine abandonment or disfavor, but an inevitable concomitant of faith. . . Jesus will have no divided allegiances; he will have all of us or he will not have us at all – so jealous is his love.
Lenski: Persecutions alone are able to lift us into the company of the prophets to share their high rewards (Matt. 5:10-12).
C. Long Term Reward
“and in the age to come, eternal life.”
Hendriksen: It should be borne in mid that the concept “life everlasting” is both quantitative and qualitative, with emphasis on the latter. It is the holiness, knowledge, fellowship, peace, joy, etc. pertaining to the life of all those who are in Christ, and as such a life that will last on and on and on forever and ever.
Constable: Disciples who follow Jesus wholeheartedly can anticipate three things. First, God will give them more in kind spiritually of what they have sacrificed physically. Second, they will receive persecution as Jesus’ disciples. Only Mark mentioned this, undoubtedly for his original persecuted readers’ benefit. Commitment to discipleship means “persecutions” as well as rewards. Third, faithful disciples will enjoy their eternal life to an extent that unfaithful disciples will not (cf. John 10:10; 17:3).
“Keep your eye on the prize”
III. (:31) SURPRISING CONSUMMATION – REVERSAL OF ORDER
“But many who are first, will be last; and the last, first.”
Evaluation of Christ is far different from the evaluation of the world
Different value system
Constable: The “first” in rank and position in this age, such as the rich young ruler, “will be last” in the next. Conversely, “the last” in this age, such as the Twelve apostles, will be “first” in the next.
Parunak: the summary paradox. Those who are now first by the world’s standards will be last in God’s reckoning; those whom the world despises shall one day be first.
Hendriksen: not only are there degrees of suffering in hell (Luke 12:47, 48), there are also degrees of glory in the restored universe (1 Cor. 15:41, 42). There will be surprises however. Not only will many of those who are now regarded as the very pillars of the church be last, but also many who never made the headlines – think of the poor widow who contributed “two mites” (Mark 12:42), and Mary of Bethany whose act of loving lavishness was roundly criticized by the disciples (Matt. 26:8) – shall be first on the day of judgment (Mark 12:43, 44; cf. Matt. 26:10-13). The disciples, who were constantly quarreling about rank (Mark 9:33f.; Matt. 18:1 f.; 20:20; Luke 22:24) better take note!
What is involved in having a model of leadership that is patterned after that of a servant??
Lawson’s Outline: My Outline:
1) Radical Commitment Sacrificial Cost
2) Righteous Reward Supreme Compensation
3) Reversed Order Surprising Consummation
Illustration: missionary Henry Morrison – left business and family behind to go to Africa; for 40 years they served faithfully; got on a steamer to come back home to the states; sailed into harbor of NYC – Will anyone be there to greet us? As ship pulled into the harbor, there was a band and multitude of people celebrating – but not for them – Teddy Roosevelt was coming back after a safari in Africa; had entourage with him and all the comforts of the Presidency – nobody left at wharf to receive them; dejected; sat on hotel bed; You would think after 40 years after we now come home someone would have remembered: wife replied: “Henry, we are not home yet” Our ultimate reward awaits us in another life