You Have to Give Up Everything?

These are notes to my lesson for the New Beginnings class on Sunday, January 4th, so if this post seems a little disjointed you’ll know why. Week two is found here.


Imagine the difference between a salad vs. a salad bar? Think about it; once everything is piled up can you really call it a salad?

  • Traditional methods are plenty in the church – evangelism, outreach, Bible study…
  • Which evangelism methods do you know?
  • Do they all come down to a verse to memorize and a prayer to pray?
  • This encounter seems too easy.

Look at Jesus in action – Mark 10:17-31.


Jesus could have said, “Your question is flawed, you can’t DO anything…” Jesus never mentions faith! In fact, He tells him he has not done enough!

  • When have you felt that you needed just one more thing to do to get this spiritual life thing right?
  • What is the relationship between what you do and what you believe?

Who was the rich young ruler?

Matthew mentions he was young, Luke mentions he was a ruler. He ran to Jesus, what does this action indicate? He humiliated himself publicly! What sort of profile can you build based on his question?


Two facts:

  1. He calls Jesus “good” (a word not lightly used, in fact it really referred to God alone, so, he had already come to some serious conclusions about Jesus).
  2. The man was at the end of his rope (he’s running, in the wind, in the dust, kneeling, asking an question – with an answer anyone would know).

The man’s unfair reputation over the years:

  • Is he proud, self-righteous, spoiled, and haughty?
  • Perhaps he’s more like a disillusioned church kid who knew all the right answers, done the right stuff but still feels unfulfilled.

Keep the Law?

Two times the disciples are amazed – why at Jesus’ response here?

  • This guy more than anyone else was blessed – he had money, power, position…
  • If one is poor, hungry, sick, you were definitely not blessed by God.
  • Jesus asked this guy to get rid of everything that was considered a blessing of God.
  • Beatitudes: blessed are the poor, not the rich. A redefinition of what it means to be blessed by God. How do you define blessing? Are you blessed?

Another shock for the twelve? It’s not about doing, it’s about receiving! But Jesus’ response goes against all we know about grace. Yet in the midst of all the rule-keeping, he had missed something.


The Hidden Key? Mark 10:21

Jesus loved him before he did anything else, even before the man refused to do this one more thing.  We want to reverse the order, do something, and then receive the love.

  • When have you felt that Jesus is judging your performance? That He’ll love you more if you do better?
  • When you are well connected to Jesus, how is life affected?
  • In what ways do you feel that you need to prove your love for God?
  • What other relationships do we have where we need to justify why you deserve to be in that relationship?

Identity Check

Consider how people define themselves. Imagine you’re at a party, what is the usual conversation? Our identity appears to be wound up in what we do.

  • What three things do you usually tell people about yourself?
  • How important are career and achievement to your identity?
  • How many friends REALLY know you, not just know facts about you?
  • How well do you feel that you know yourself?

Career, education, position, family name… all can crumble around us, but who are we? Here’s the point of the story. This is the question Jesus was trying to get the young ruler to ask: The man knew how people defined him (like us, as a rich young ruler), Jesus wanted to get to his core, so selling his possessions, even considering it, would strip this man of his identity. In this life crisis, he could define himself the way Jesus wanted. In what was his faith?


The identity question can only be answered in the moment of crisis, when your life is altered or threatened. Who was the rich young ruler when all of his possessions were gone? That’s the point Jesus was moving him towards. How do I know? Mark 10:13-16.


Become like children

In this society children were not really people. They offered nothing to mainstream culture. But for Jesus, these nobodies embodied the qualities that were kingdom-worthy. Jesus wanted this man to embrace nothingness to experience the kingdom. The old things have passed away, behold all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Nobodies don’t rely on trivial marks of identity. Their significance comes from a deeper source!


The rich young ruler could not embrace an existence where he brought nothing to the table. He could not stomach the crisis of nothingness.


Can you hear the Scripture? Can you feel Jesus trying to pull from your fists whatever is keeping you from true poverty, and thus, true wealth? Go and sell your self-righteousness, sell you drams of fame and fortune, sell your popularity, sell you comfortable future, come and trust Me…


Are you living a life defined by Jesus? Is there anything in life that you need to trade off so you can have true faith?

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