Too often we conclude it is a risk to our desires to go all in for Christ rather than the fulfilment of them. We learn from Luke 18:18-30 that there are three things that will keep us from going all in: self-reliance, fear of losing what you have, and not realizing what you will gain. The one true rich, young ruler invites us in and we would be fools to not say “yes” every time, with everything.
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Hello, Watermark. How are we doing? We are going to take a break from Acts today. As I looked at chapters 6 and 7, we are moving toward a story of incredible, courageous faith. I talked with Todd. He's the guy I learned courageous faith from. I said, "It makes sense for you to teach that. I'd love to share with the body what the Lord has been teaching me." So that's where we'll be this morning, something God has had me in for about a month now. I'm excited to share it with you.
I'll start here on my twenty-first birthday. When I turned 21, I was not a Christian, not walking with the Lord, and I wanted to gamble. I wanted to go to the casinos. I'm 21 now. I had heard about these places, and I wanted to go be in the middle of it. I told my boys that. I'm like, "Hey, I want to go gamble. Let's go big. Let's go where everyone goes if they want to hit up the casinos. Let's go where all the lights are and all the action is."
You guys know where we went, of course. Shreveport, Louisiana. So we hit the boats up. The problem when you're 21 and you want to gamble… I didn't have much money, so it wasn't very fun at all. I basically walked in, handed them my wallet, and then felt like I had gotten kicked in the gut. I'm walking out, tail between my legs, and I have a $5 chip in my pocket. It's all I have left. I see this long line where I could try to cash exchange that for a $5 bill. I thought, "I'm not going to do that."
I walked by this roulette wheel. That's this game where there's a marble. They drop this marble. It spins on this wheel, and it lands on red or black. If you bet on red and it lands on red, you double your money. I walked by. I thought, "I'll bet the chip." I put my $5 on red, and the casino person there drops the marble. It spins around the wheel and lands on red. I'm like, "This is amazing. I have $10 now." I'm like, "What do I do with $10? There's still a long line, so I'll go ahead and let it ride."
So I bet my $10 on red. They drop the marble, and it spins around the wheel and lands on red. This is amazing. Twenty dollars. This is the easiest money I've ever made in my life. What do I do with the $20? I think, "Well, I could go eat. No, let's let it ride." So $20 on red. Drops the marble, spins around the wheel, and it lands on red. Forty dollars. This feels like real money all of a sudden. I'm like, "Oh, $40." Now my wheels are turning. "Okay, what can I waste $40 on?"
I'm thinking about these things. I'm like, "You know what? Maybe… No, because it's 40. No. Yeah, let's do it. Let it ride. Forty on red." They drop the marble, and it spins around the wheel and lands on…red! Eighty dollars. I'm like, "Oh wow, $80, 21 years old. What am I going to do with $80? I could buy a car. No, I couldn't. What am I going to do with this?" I'm thinking, "I could bet it. No. Do I? No." All of a sudden, I don't want to risk. There's too much to risk losing. I can't push it across the line. I can't go all in with it. Now I have something I don't want to lose.
As I think about when Jesus is calling us to go all in with him, I see people all the time who can do this with ease when they're flat on their back and broke and they went through a breakup and hard times are facing them and they're at rock bottom and have nowhere else to look but up. But what about the rest of us, where it's like, "You know what? Do I really need Jesus? I've kind of made this big ol' life over here. If I go all in with Jesus, that's going to compromise some things. That's going to change some things about my life. Do I really want to do that? Do I really believe it's worth it? Do I really want to risk it all?"
The more you have, the more it begins to seem like it's a cost to follow Christ. I think our problem is we see Jesus as a risk to our desires and not the fulfillment of them. So this morning I want to talk to you about this question, this idea…What is keeping you from going all in with Jesus? I think some of us are here this morning and we don't think Jesus is a safe bet. We're in church, of course, but we're holding on to the world.
We have one foot in the world and one foot in the church, and we can't enjoy either of them. We have just enough world so that we're in church and we're uncomfortable. We're thinking about what we did last night, and we're thinking about what we're going to do next weekend, and we're thinking about work tomorrow, and we're thinking about what we could get and what we have, and so forth. Or we're in the world and we have so much Jesus we can't enjoy the world either. We're just convicted. We can't enjoy either place.
So what is keeping us from going all in with Jesus? For so many folks I meet with and talk to, the biggest thing that's keeping you from going all in with Jesus is the fact that you think you have. "I'm in church. I've gone all in with Jesus." But it doesn't really mark every aspect of your life and who you are. I'm going to look at three things from a familiar passage, if you've been in church for a while, in Luke 18. Three things that will keep you from going all in with Jesus.
This is a passage affectionately known as the rich young ruler. I have taught this passage many times, and as I continue to dive deeper into it, I feel like I'm preaching it correctly for the first time. As I look back on things I've said from this passage before, I'm like, "That's not what that means." As I've gone deeper and deeper into it, I feel like I finally see it with new eyes, what this actually means.
It appears three times in the Gospels, in Mark 10, Matthew 19, and here in Luke 18. When God wants to tell you something important, often he repeats it. When he shows it to you three times, he's saying, "Hey, there's something in here, Watermark, that I really, really want you to see." Where it falls in Luke is important. Luke has changed the order of events as he's retelling these stories and documenting them, so I think the order of events in which it falls in Luke is very, very important.
Let me tell you about this rich young ruler. I think a lot of times he is interchangeable with the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the religious people, and we write this guy off as a bad guy. This guy is not a bad guy. This guy is the guy, if you're a single lady, your mother has been nagging you to go out with. This is the guy everybody's mom wants them to marry. This is a good guy. He's not only successful… He's not a religious leader. He's some sort of business mogul. He's successful, and it appears that he has a deep, abiding relationship with God.
Everybody, in fact, would have seen this guy as the most spiritual guy because of his morality and his success, so they're outraged when Jesus talks about him like he may not get into heaven. This would be the equivalent of me saying, "Hey, guys, Tim Tebow won't be in heaven. He's not going to be there."
You'd be like, "What? How can you say that? He's a good guy. He leverages all of his success for Christ. He seems to be doing it well." I like to think about this guy like Tim Tebow. He asks Jesus, "What must I do to get into heaven?" Jesus says, "Be good." He says, "I am good." Jesus says, "All right. Well, there's one thing you're missing, then. Sell everything you have, give it to the poor, and follow me." We know the man leaves sad.
Let's dive in. Luke 18:18: "A certain ruler [the rich young ruler] asked him [Jesus] , 'Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'" Underline those two words I do. That's important to understand this passage. Where he says "Good teacher," I have to explain this. In the Greek it's agathos. That word for good is intrinsically, perfectly good. This is one of the things I've missed before. I thought Jesus was telegraphing his deity here, trying to explain, "I am God, and if you only knew that I was God you'd get into heaven."
This guy is not saying, "Hey, you're a person who teaches well." This guy is saying, "Excuse me, rabbi. You are a good person and a teacher. What must I do to inherit eternal life?" This is why Jesus responds the way he does. He's telegraphing where he's headed in his response. "Why do you call me good?" He's saying, "Why do you think people can be good?" "No one is good—except God alone."
This blasts the idea that good people go to heaven. This text right here is shattering that popular idea that good people go to heaven. Jesus is saying, "No one is good. Only God is good." He's setting the dichotomy. It's not that he didn't acknowledge Jesus as God but that he thinks people can be good. Jesus says, "You know the commandments: 'You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'"
I don't know what you thought when you read this. I always thought, "Why did Jesus respond that way?" Why didn't Jesus say, "Do you want to know how to get to heaven? Here's the deal. I'm about to go to a cross. I'm going to pay the price for your sins. You trust in me. I'm going to come back to life. If you trust in my death and resurrection as a payment for your sins, you'll go to heaven." But he doesn't. He says, "You know the commandments. Obey the law."
Why does Jesus do that? It is the most honest answer to the question, "What must I do?" Jesus answered his question. "What must I do to get to heaven?" "Be perfect. Obey the law." This guy is going to say, "Man, obey the law perfectly? I can't do that. I mean, I've tried since I was a child, and I miss it all the time. It seems like I need someone to save me from that." Can you get to heaven by obeying the law perfectly? You absolutely can.
Before you walk out, can you obey the law perfectly? No. You need someone to save you. The law shows you that you cannot obey it perfectly. The law shows you your deep need for a savior. This guy is going to say, "Man, there's no way I can do that." Right? No, here's what he says, and here's the problem in verse 21: "All these I have kept since I was a boy…"
"Which of these have you kept?"
"All of them since I was a boy."
"What do I need to do to get to heaven on my own?"
"You need to be good."
"I am good."
The problem is this man doesn't see his need for Jesus. My first point today is really the main idea of this passage.
1._ Self-reliance will keep you from going all in with Jesus_. If you leave this place and simply try to keep all of the rules and build your life on morality, you're going to maximize your 80 years, 70 years, 60 years, 95 years, you're going to die, and you're going to go to hell, because you never realized your deep, deep need for someone to come into your life and save you, because you were self-reliant. You had it all going for you. You had a good thing.
You were pursuing a good, smooth life in this world, and you never realized, "I need someone to save me." Winning in the game of salvation starts by pointing to the right works. You can point to yours or you can point to his. I always share the gospel in this familiar way. Two questions known as the Kennedy questions. "Between 1 and 10, how certain are you that you'd go to heaven if you died right now?" and the second question is, "If God said, 'Why should I let you in?' what would you say?"
The most common response I get here in DFW to that question, "If God said, 'Why should I let you in?' what would you say?" is "Well, because I…" Errr! "Because I…" Errr! Wrong already. "Because I tried hard, because I did good, because I wanted to know him, because I have really done my best to go to church and get in community, because I love God, because I know God, because I…" Errr!
"Because you sent your Son Jesus Christ to die for my sins. You paid the price for my sins on the cross. You raised him from the dead. Because you, God." In that moment, you can point to your résumé in that hypothetical scenario that I don't think is actually going to happen, that God would ask you that, but he's asking you right now. "Because you, God." You can point to Christ's résumé or you can point to your own.
This man here, this rich young ruler, struggled with a flavor of doubt. We often think about doubt as worry and anxiety and not trusting God, but there's another flavor of doubt that I believe is more dangerous than that, and it's extreme confidence in self. It's "I don't need God, because I'm good. Maybe not just morally good, but I'm a good deal maker. I'm crafty. I'm good with my words. I'm good at what I do. I don't need God, because I'm skilled. I'm successful." That's a whole other flavor of doubt.
Worry and anxiety can push you to a place where you see your need for God, but this extreme confidence in self may keep you going for a while. Good people go to hell, but people who realize their need for God receive his grace. Need is what we have to offer God. Do you hear me? Need. What do you bring to God? You bring to God your need. That is what you have to offer him: a deep desperation for him. Where this falls in Luke is important, because in verse 15 there's this other story right before this section. I'm going to read it to you.
"People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.'"
Anybody who does not receive. "What must I do?" Receive the kingdom of God. I have three kids. They've all been in diapers once. Let me tell you something. A child is high maintenance surrounded by noise. They can do nothing for me. The only thing they bring to me is need. The only thing they possess in this life is need. They can't move without me carrying them. Jesus says, "This is how I want you to come to me."
Every now and then, I share the gospel with someone who responds in this way. I'll say, "Are you ready? Are you ready to go all in with Christ? Are you ready to believe this?" and they say, "Man, I'm trying to." I'll use this illustration where I come borrow a pen. I say, "Here's what I want you to do. I want you to try to take this." They go like that.
I go, "No, no, no. Give it back. I want you to try to take this." They take it again. I say, "No, no, no. Give it back. Hey, I want you to try to take it." Now they're really confused, and they're like, "I don't know where you're going with this." There's this awkward moment (it always happens), where they kind of put their hands on it and they don't know what to do.
I'm like, "That's right. You can't try to take something that's freely being handed to you. You can't try to take something that is being offered to you. God's grace is freely flowing to you right now through the death and resurrection of his Son, a payment that has already occurred in the past. You can say, 'I believe that payment was for my sins' or 'I don't,' but there's no trying to receive it. It's freely being extended to you, freely coming your way."
The application for this section is…What in your life is preventing you from needing God right now? In one word, if that's helpful, you can write down dependence. Verse 22: "When Jesus heard this, he said to him, 'You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'"
For some reason, I've always read this like Jesus is just messing with this poor rich young ruler. I'm like, "Why does he say that?" Why does Jesus say, "Sell everything you have and give it to the poor"? How you hear this really matters. Here's how I heard it in the past, maybe potentially how you hear it.
"Oh, haha! You think you're good, huh? Okay, okay, good man. All right. You've done a lot of things good. Really? Hey, disciples, listen up. I'm going to mess with this guy. Are you ready? Here's what I want you to do. All right, good man. I want you to sell everything you have, give it to the poor, and then follow me. Watch this, watch this. He's not going to be able to do it. Oh, are you sad? Oh, you can't do that. I didn't think so."
That's how I always heard it. That's not what's going on here. Let me show you something in Mark 10. Where this passage falls in Mark 10, he says this. "'Teacher,' he declared, 'all these I have kept since I was a boy.'" Verse 21. Look at how powerful these few words are. "Jesus looked at him and loved him." He had pity on him, moved with compassion for him. This is our Jesus, our Savior. "You have too much pulling you away, man."
Verse 23: "When he heard this, he became very sad…" I told you this was a good guy. Cocky religious people don't respond with sorrow. He would be like, "What? I'm not going to sell everything I have." But he's like, "Oh…" I think he believes Jesus. "…because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, 'How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.'"
Maybe you've heard that he's talking about a camel going through a gate in Jerusalem and he has to get on his knees. That's crazy. There is no historical data at all to back that idea up. Jesus is saying a hyperbole that is impossible. He's saying, "It would be easier for you to crawl in a Coke can." It's something crazy like that. He probably saw a camel right there, and he's like, "You see this big animal? It would be easier for this big animal to go through where we put the thread in a needle."
It's impossible. That's why they respond the way they do. "Wait a minute. That would be impossible." "Those who heard this asked, 'Who then can be saved?'" It's very difficult to understand this passage in America. It's very difficult to understand this passage today in our culture, because there are some very unique things happening in this culture.
For the Jews, if you were a moral, good-standing citizen and you had wealth, you were, as the most religious are, those who were closest to God. You were Deacon Bob. You were the guy everybody would go to for Bible advice. You were the guy everyone saw and said, "He's the closest to God." Imagine how outraged you would be if I was like, "Tim Tebow is not getting in, guys." You'd be like, "Wait a minute." Or, "John Piper…he's not saved," or whoever that person is to you.
Put in your mind the most spiritual person you know, and imagine Christ saying, "No, they're not good enough." You'd be like, "What? Well, if they don't know the Bible enough, then who can be saved?" That's why they respond this way. Let me say it like this. Here's a metaphor to explain this. It's like, "Jesus, what must I do to get into heaven?" and he says, "You have to be fast." "Okay, well, how fast do I have to be, Jesus?" "You know Usain Bolt? He ain't fast enough."
You'd be like, "Well, then who can get into heaven?" That's why they responded this way. "Who then can be saved?" He says this. This is a theme. Verse 27: "What is impossible with man is possible with God." He's saying, "Don't you understand? It's not up to what you do. It's up to God." You bring need to God. You remain in your 80 years or whatever that is on earth in a place of dependence on God.
No one is good enough to get to heaven. Good people go to hell all the time, but God's people go to heaven. You need God. You can't get to heaven without God. What's going to keep you from God? Not just self-reliance. Sometimes self-reliance is stuff-reliance. Sometimes your stuff is going to keep you from God. Somebody told it to me this week like this. Things have mass, and mass has gravity, and often things with mass are pulling you away from God.
2._ Fear of losing what you have will keep you from going all in with Jesus._ Like me with my $80. "I can't put it all in. I can't hand that to God." Jesus says to him, "You lack one thing." But did you notice? Then he said three things. He said, "There's one thing you lack. Sell everything you have, give to the poor, and follow me." I think that third thing is the one thing he lacked. What this man lacked was Jesus. The one thing he lacked was a relationship with Jesus.
Why did he say, "Sell everything"? Because Jesus always does this. The most loving thing Jesus Christ can do in your life right now (and I hope he's doing it right now, I mean this morning right now) is begin to show you the idols that are coming between you and him. That's the most loving thing he can do, and he does it all the time throughout the Scriptures.
You remember this in John, chapter 4, with the woman at the well. He's like, "Hey, what are you doing?" She's like, "I'm thirsty." He says, "Oh, you're thirsty? Well, I can give you water so that you never thirst again." She says, "Where can I get this water?" He says, "I'll tell you what. Go home and get your husband, and I'll tell you." "I have no husband."
"You're right when you say you have no husband, because you've had five husbands, and the man you're with right now is not your husband. Here's what's coming between you and me, ma'am. You have some relationship struggles. You've been finding identity in relationships with men, and the most loving thing I can do as Christ the Messiah, God in the flesh, is to expose the things that are coming between you and me." It's the most loving thing Jesus can do. I pray he's doing it in your heart right now.
Jesus says, "If you want this, first let go of that." Jesus has something better than what you're holding on to. In Mark 8:36 he says it like this. It's a sobering question. "What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" I talk to young adults all the time who are terrified that Christ is going to make them deal with their sin. I say, "Why aren't you ready to do this?"
"Because I don't want to stop having sex."
"Why don't you want to do this?"
"Because I can't stop looking at pornography."
"Why don't you want to do this?"
"Because I'm afraid that Christ is going to deal with my materialistic heart."
Some of you have been walking with Christ for a long time, but if you were totally honest, you know right now, "I haven't gone all in with him. I maybe have enough to get me into heaven, but I'm not going to go all in. He may call me to adoption. He may call me to change neighborhoods. He may call me to sell my car.
He may call me to something that is bigger than I want to do. He may make me start sharing my faith, talk to strangers, or worse, my boss or coworkers, to live on mission. I don't want to do that. Don't make me go all in. I'm perfectly fine being a lukewarm Christian. Does the Bible even say anything about lukewarm Christians? Is it okay if I just stay a lukewarm Christian?"
What I want you to know is he's maybe calling you to a lot of those things I just said. He's certainly calling all of us to radical generosity, not just the rich young ruler. If there's something in us that's resistant to that, I want to give you peace on one hand and not-so-much peace on the other hand. You don't have a behavior problem. Your problem is not with what you're doing or not doing. You have a belief problem.
Your problem is you don't think Christ is worth it. Your problem is you have a "Do I have to?" faith. It's like my kids. "Daddy, do I have to?" Do you have to for what? To get into heaven? No. Do you have to in order to have the abundant life Christ is calling you to? Yeah. You get to. You get to live like you actually believe this. Yeah, you get to. He will not call you to anything that is not best for you. Do we believe that?
He's not going to call you to anything that is not absolutely best for you. I like saying it like this. Following Jesus will cost you something, but not following Jesus will cost you everything. For this man, he couldn't stand the thought of losing his wealth, so he left sad. I've heard it said this way. What you cannot give away you don't own; it owns you. What you can't give away you don't own, you don't possess. It owns you, possesses you. Can we all agree that holding on to something that's holding you back from Christ is foolish?
I keep seeing this YouTube video. I've watched it many times. It's pretty entertaining. It's called "How to Catch a Baboon." If you haven't left with anything, you're going to leave with how to catch a baboon, just in case you ever need a baboon for anything. This guy goes to this termite mound and drills this little hole in the termite mound and puts a little ball-like seed in there. This baboon is watching him from the trees the whole time. Curious animals they are, evidently.
The guy walks off. The baboon can get his hand in the hole, and he grabs the seed, but he can't get his fist out of the hole. You see him begin to panic, and the guy walks up calmly, but the baboon is screeching and squealing and flipping, about to rip his arm off trying to get free. All he has to do is let go, but the guy walks up calmly and slips a noose around his neck. I think that is so true for us.
We're like, "I want to go all in with Jesus. Just don't make me let go of this relationship, status, stuff, career, these things that are important to me that are actually a distraction from him. Don't make me let go of these things." I think we can agree it's foolish. Jesus is the safe bet. It's not even a gamble. Every number is red. You're betting on red. It's not even a gamble. It's not even a risk, but we're afraid to push it all across the line like this guy.
The application is asking the question…What are you holding on to that's holding you back, and how can you use it to bless others? In one word, you can write down generosity. I told you this passage has been messing with me. Even as late as Thursday of this week I had a conversation. I met with some guys, and we were talking about stewardship. My friend Adam was saying, "We don't buy things because they're useful." I said, "What do you mean?" He says, "We buy things because of what they will tell the world about us, what they say about us."
"What do you mean? I think I want to know what you mean. I'm not sure I want to know, but I think I want to know. Be careful. Be gentle with me right now." We're just talking about it. He's like, "You don't buy Ray-Bans because they block the sun. You chose a pair of sunglasses because of what they say about you. You don't buy specific things because of their practical use.
You didn't buy your car because it's going to get you from point A to point B. You bought a particular style of car most likely because of what it says, the narrative. Where you live, the house you chose, the neighborhood you chose, and where your kids go to school… It's a story. It's like you're accessorizing a character in a movie, and that movie is you."
You don't get a purse because "I just need a bag to hold my stuff in. A grocery bag will do." No, I want a Tory Burch because of what it's going to say about me, what it's going to tell the world. I'm accessorizing a character. At that point I was like, "Adam, shut up." So I thought I would lovingly share that with you. All of a sudden, things people had said to me started making sense. Once a year we'll get with our community and ask each other, "Hey, what are quirks in my life I may be blind to?" It's not fun.
One of the things somebody said to me is, "You know, you just have a lot of stuff. It's like you like stuff." I said, "What do you mean?" He says, "When I go through your garage, there's just a lot of stuff in there." I'm like, "That's what a garage is for. You keep your stuff there. What's the problem?" All of a sudden, it started making sense.
Because then the conversation went, "It's okay to enjoy things, but to enjoy things means to use them. If you have something you don't use, you just have something so you can have it just in case or you begin to store things up or you have multiple of the same things. You don't have them for their usefulness. You're building barns. You're storing treasures." All of a sudden, it started making sense to me.
As I walked through my garage and saw the scooter that I ride two or three times a year, I'm like, "What is wrong with me? Why do I do this? Why do I chase the daily deals on Amazon? Why do I think about the next thing I can buy? Sometimes it creates this high in me." I just started seeing this gross, disgusting thing about my character. Maybe it resonates with you, maybe it doesn't.
When you talk about accessorizing a character in a movie, you have to be careful, because that's identity talk. You're beginning to build an identity for someone in something other than Jesus. That's dangerous. Peter said to him in verse 28, "We've left everything to follow you. We've done what you asked him to do, Jesus. We did it, man."
"'Truly I tell you,' Jesus said to them, 'no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God…'" Do we believe verse 30? You have to decide if you believe it. "…will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life."
Do you believe right now that there is absolutely zero comparing what you've given up for Christ in comparison to what you're going to gain in him? It doesn't even compare, friends. You will receive infinitely more in and through a relationship with Jesus than you would ever give up to follow him. That's what this passage is saying.
3._ Not realizing what you will gain will keep you from going all in with Jesus._ Renewing your mind around the benefits, blessings, and glories of Jesus Christ… A lack of doing that will keep you from going all in with him. Let me illustrate this. When I became a believer, I was with a group of guys, and one of the gentlemen there said, "Hey, I'd like to go on a photo safari to Africa. Would anyone like to go?"
We all sat quietly there. My mind was racing. "I could never do that." He said these magic words: "I'll pay for it." "So in on that, bro. That sounds like a great idea." So we went. I didn't know. That's a long plane ride, so I had plenty of time to ask a lot of questions when we're in the air. I'm like, "Where are we going to sleep?" He's like, "We're going to stay in tents."
My "poor boy from Cuero, Texas" mind goes to, "Oh, REI tents. Okay. Let me ask you another question. How do the lions not get through the tents? Are there lions there? Are we actually going to see lions? What are we doing? So we're going to look for the animals so we can take pictures of them? How are we going to shower?" He's like, "Oh, there will be a shower, like an outdoor…" I'm picturing a water hose. I just didn't know.
So we get on this plane. We get on a little plane. We land on a dirt runway in the jungles of Africa. This guy picks us up in this Defender 90, greets us with food and beverages, takes our things, pampers us, caters us, drives us through the jungle. We're passing lions and elephants and leopards and baboons and giraffes and all of these animals, these creatures in the jungle. They're right there. Like from me to the camera guy. Right there. I'm just overwhelmed by it.
There's no fence. This isn't a zoo. I don't even see a single man-made thing. I'm starting to think, "Where are these tents?" We drive into this thick canopy of trees, and there's this little cutout in the canopy. We pull in there, and all of a sudden I begin to see people. We drive by structures, incredible restaurants, and we pull up to where we're going to stay, and there's this huge infinity pool. A giraffe is right on the other side of it, and this baboon is drinking from the pool. I'm like, "I know how to catch you, bro. Watch out."
We walk to my tent, if you can even call it that. It has this huge slab foundation and this big California king-sized bed and this slate shower and these incredibly luxurious resort amenities. I'm lying at night in my California king somebody had warmed up with hot water bottles before I got in it, and I'm like, "Why didn't they raise their hand? They just didn't know. They didn't know. If they would have known, everybody would have been like, 'I'm in, I'm in.' How am I the only one here right now?"
It's a joke of an illustration compared to the glories and riches of Christ, Prince of the universe. What a joke, right? Peter is like, "We've left everything." Jesus is like, "You haven't left anything. You're walking toward it forever. Everything you think is behind you has been multiplied and set in front of you. It has been multiplied and glorified, and it's perfect, and it's waiting for you times a hundred. You haven't left anything that you're not going to receive more of."
If you don't have Jesus, this is as good as it gets, but if you have a relationship with Christ, this is as bad as you're ever going to see. The problem with this rich young ruler is he thinks he's the rich young ruler. He's not the rich young ruler. He's talking to the rich young ruler. The title came later. He's not the rich young ruler. All his stuff that he can't sell and give to the poor is Jesus' stuff. The cattle on a thousand hills belong to Christ. This guy is just a steward of his stuff.
Jesus is like, "Hey, you can borrow some of my stuff for a little while. Be careful what you do with it, because it has gravity. Use it for me. In fact, what I want you to do right now is sell it, give it to the poor, and follow me. I told you it has gravity." The cattle on a thousand hills belong to Jesus. There's not a square inch over all of creation he doesn't hover over and cry out, "Mine." It's all his.
This guy had the invitation of a lifetime. "Come and be the thirteenth disciple with me." Like guys we name our children after, John, Matthew, Pete… What's this guy's name? You don't know. All you know him by is how he accessorized his life. "Rich young ruler." He's not rich anymore, he's not young anymore, and he's not ruling anything anymore. Jesus was trying to change that.
The true rich young ruler shares his infinite wealth with us and invites us to be rich with him. He says, "You can store up your good deeds. You can leverage your life here and make investments in eternity forever and ever and ever." Jesus is offering him the trip of a lifetime. The application is the question…How often do you acknowledge all that you have received in Christ? In one word, it's gratitude.
In summary, go all in by depending fully on the finished work of Jesus, go all in by generously giving away anything that's holding you back, and go all in by being grateful for everything Jesus has given you.
This summer, we went on vacation with two other families to the beach. There were eight girls there. We have eight daughters collectively, and my son Weston. They're playing on the beach in the sand, and this sand castle contest ensues. They're like, "Hey, do you want to build a sand castle? Oh, let's see who can build the biggest sand castle."
We're just watching as dads, delighting in our kids as they build these castles. They build these castles, and one of them learned this was an inch, so I was watching them trying to measure whose castle is the tallest. I'm watching on, and then as they finished the castles and there are these three sand castles, as they're dancing around and playing this game of royalty… "I'm a princess. You're the queen. Weston is the prince."
I don't know what you picture when I say "sand castles," but they had no molds or anything and they're 7, so these were like sad piles of dirt. That's what these were. Sad lumps of sand piled like sad anthills. They're dancing around. "Oh, look at our castles. They're so beautiful. Can I stay in your castle? You can stay in my castle."
I just want you to imagine with me for a moment if Jesus walked up to these young women and said, "Hey, ladies. You want to be royalty? You want to be a princess? I'm a king in a foreign land. I have a kingdom. I have castles like you can't even imagine right now, castles that can't even be described in your language. Follow me, and I'll make you royalty."
You can imagine if they looked at him, confused, and said, "Mister, do you not see we have castles? Do you not see we're already royalty? You did not hear us? She's the princess. I'm the queen. What are you talking about right now? We're just some Christians from Texas. We don't need to follow you, sir." What I'm trying to tell you is the tide of the return of Jesus is coming, and it's going to wash away all of your castles, things you stacked on top of each other.
It's all going to be washed away. The only thing that's going to last forever are the investments you made in eternity. That's all you're going to have. It's all I'm going to have. When he calls us to go all in, it would be silly to say anything other than, "You got it. I'm in. Let's go." I pray you'd say that. Let me pray with us.
God in heaven, we know that your Son Jesus Christ is the most sure bet, Lord, that there is nothing of value that we can have apart from him, nothing of eternal wealth, of eternal significance, of eternal glory that we can obtain apart from him. Would you help us to see things with the eyes of eternity, with the heart and the mind of your Spirit? Father, we thank you for what you've done for us through Jesus.
We thank you for the salvation you freely extended to us, and I pray you would help us, convict us, show us how we can use it and leverage it for your sake, for your glory, for your honor. We thank you so much that we can gather around your Word and that it never returns void, that it instructs us, that it shows us there's a reason you preserved this text for thousands of years so that we'd read it this morning and be instructed by it, be changed by it. We love you, Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.