The Heart of a Follower of Jesus: Dependence
In Luke 18:18-34, the ruler asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” After Jesus rehearses a list of commandments, the man replies, “All these things I have done from my youth.”
Perhaps this man thinks he’s talking to someone like the Pharisees, someone who values external morality. But Jesus doesn’t value what the Pharisees value. Jesus cares about internal obedience—he cares about the heart.
So that is where Jesus goes—to the heart: “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
The point isn’t that money is evil in and of itself (Luke 16:30). The point is that Jesus puts his finger on the item in this man’s life that is keeping him from following Jesus—that which is of ultimate value to the man, an idol that he worships and that he refuses to let go of.
We know this is the case because of his reaction: “He became very sad, for he was extremely rich.”
In Luke 17:33, Jesus says, “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” Preserving your life doesn’t necessarily mean that you are literally trying to keep yourself alive; it can mean that you are protecting that which you can’t imagine your life without, that which is of ultimate value and worth to you such that you try and keep it and cling to it and miss the salvation right in front of you.
For this man, it was his money. He made a value judgment. If Jesus requires everything I have, he thought, what I have is worth more than Jesus; therefore, I cannot follow Jesus.
Jesus turns up the heat: “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through an eye of the needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
This should be seen as the warning it is. The people hear this and say, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus answers, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
This is the sentence that should be written on all of our tombstones, tattooed on our arms, written on Pinterest and liked on Facebook. God has done the impossible—he has taken those who were his enemies, who loved the creation more than the Creator, and turned our hearts to him, given us hearts of flesh and made us see that only by the cross can we be saved.
God is able to do the impossible: conquer death and save us from sin. He tells the disciples again of his death and how he’ll be mocked and killed but on the third day he will rise. His Kingdom is already here. You can enter it now and have God do what is absolutely impossible apart from him. He can forgive your sins. He can give you a new heart. He can help you live under his rule and blessing.
But it comes with a decision. Remember, when you get to the end of your life, that which you think is of most value now will be worth nothing. You can’t take it with you then, so if it is where you find all your hope, salvation will be lost.
The faith of a follower of Jesus is a dependent faith, dependent on God who does the impossible—what we could never do ourselves.