Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast save in the death of Christ, my God; all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to his blood. —from When I Survey the Wondrous Cross vs 2
As Jesus sets out on a journey, he runs into a man who kneels before him and asks,”Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” Jesus goes on to remind the man of the commandments and the man says he has kept them. Jesus then looked at him and loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” We are told that the man goes away “shocked and grieving, for he had many possessions.” (From Mark 10:17-22)
Just before Jesus set out on this journey, he had said, “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” The little child has gained no possessions in life, and hasn’t had time to learn or keep the commandments for that matter. The little child has nothing to give in exchange for entrance into the kingdom. The man seems to have a lot to give but he is unwilling to give it away to follow Jesus.
We are reminded that there are so many things that can stand in the way of truly following Jesus. The biggest one is probably our pride. Our willingness to realize that we can’t do it on our own and our only hope is to rely on the grace and love of God. If you look at the verse of the hymn quoted above, the man wanted to boast about the “good things” he had done but, the only thing that we have to boast about as Christians is Christ and him crucified. The man was possessed by his many possessions; all the vain things that charmed him most. But he was unwilling to let them go for the sake of following.
Jesus continues to tell us that it’s not the things of this world that matter. It’s not about the power, place, or possessions but it’s about who we follow in faith. It’s about following Jesus knowing that he is the only one who can save us, he is the only one that gives life. It is reported that Martin Luther had a scrap of paper in his pocket at his death with the simple phrase, “We are beggars, this is true.” Before God, we are like a child with nothing to give but, also like a child, can we be ready to receive the blessings Jesus offers us?