|"Following Jesus All the Way!"
|One of the most pathetic stories recorded in the Bible is that of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus seeking eternal life. You will find the
story recorded in Matthew 19:16-22. The story is graphically presented in the book The Desire of Ages, pages 518-520, in these words: "And
when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may
inherit eternal life? . . ."
This ruler had a high estimate of his own righteousness. He did not really suppose that he was defective in anything, yet he was not altogether
satisfied. He felt the want of something that he did not possess. Could not Jesus bless him as He blessed the little children and satisfy his
In reply to this question Jesus told him that obedience to the commandments of God was necessary if he would obtain eternal life; and He
quoted several of the commandments which show man's duty to his fellow men. The ruler's answer was positive: 'All these things have I kept
from my youth up: what lack I yet?'
"Christ looked into the face of the young man, as if reading his life and searching his character. He loved him, and He hungered to give him that
peace and grace and joy which would materially change his character. 'One thing thou lackest,' He said; 'go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast,
and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come take up the cross, and follow Me.' . . ."
"The very holiness of God was offered to the young ruler. He had the privilege of becoming a son of God, and coheir with Christ to the heavenly
treasure. But he must take up the cross, and follow the Saviour in the path of self - denial. . . ."
"He wanted the heavenly treasure, but he wanted also the temporal advantages his riches would bring him. He was sorry that such conditions
existed; he desired eternal life, but he was not willing to make the sacrifice. The cost of eternal life seemed too great, and he went away
sorrowful; 'for he had great possessions.' "
Are we like the rich young ruler -- we long for everlasting life, but we are unwilling to go all the way with Jesus?
"The spotless Son of God hung upon the cross, His flesh lacerated with stripes; those hands so often reached out in blessings, nailed to the
wooden bars; those feet so tireless on ministries of love, spiked to the tree; that royal head pierced by the crown of thorns; those quivering lips
shaped to the cry of woe. And all that He endured -- the blood drops that flowed from His head, His hands, His feet, the agony that racked His
frame, and the unutterable anguish that filled His soul at the hiding of His Father's face -- speaks to each child of humanity, declaring: It is for
thee that the Son of God consents to bear this burden of guilt; for thee, He . . . offers Himself upon the cross as a sacrifice, and this from love to
thee" (Ibid., p. 755).
2. When the man in the parable found a great treasure, how much was he willing to sacrifice to secure it? Matthew 13:44-46
4. When a person finds the wonderful treasure of salvation, how much should he be willing to sacrifice to obtain it?
5. What does Jesus say of one who lets a loved one keep him from being a Christian? Matthew 10:36, 37
6. What did Jesus say about the individual who is unwilling to leave all for Him? Verse 38
7. What kept the rulers of Christ's day from accepting Him? John 12:42, 43
8. What kept the rich young ruler from following Jesus all the way? Matthew 19:21, 22
"Christ made the only terms which could place the ruler where he would perfect a Christian character. His words were words
of wisdom, though they appeared severe and exacting. In accepting and obeying them was the ruler's only hope of salvation.
His exalted position and his possessions were exerting a subtle influence for evil upon his character. If cherished, they
would supplant God in his affections. To keep back little or much from God was to retain that which would lessen his moral
strength and efficiency; for if the things of this world are cherished, however uncertain and unworthy they may be, they will
become all - absorbing."
"The ruler was quick to discern all that Christ's words involved, and he became sad" (Ibid., p. 520).
10. When a person turns away from listening to the truth, what happens? 2 Timothy 4:3, 4
11. What kind of worship results from following the traditions and doctrines of men? Matthew 15:9
12. How is it possible to determine the truthfulness of any doctrine or teaching? 1 Thessalonians 5:21
13. By what standard can we prove a doctrine to be false or true? Isaiah 8:20
14. What instructions did the wise man give concerning truth? Proverbs 23:23
15. What did Christ say of those who are willing to do God's will? John 7:17
16. What did Jesus say a person must do to become one of His disciples and know the truth? John 8:31, 32
17. What must we be willing to do for Jesus? Luke 9:23
"The cross was associated with the power of Rome. It was the instrument of the most cruel and humiliating form of death. The lowest criminals
were required to bear the cross to the place of execution; and often as it was about to be laid upon their shoulders, they resisted with desperate
violence, until they were overpowered, and the instrument of torture was bound upon them. But Jesus bade His followers take up the cross and
bear it after Him. To the disciples His words, though dimly comprehended, pointed to their submission to the most bitter humiliation --
submission even unto death for the sake of Christ. No more complete surrender could the Saviour's words have pictured, but all this He had
accepted for them. Jesus did not count heaven a place to be desired while we were lost. He left the heavenly courts for a life of reproach and
insult, and a death of shame. He who was rich in heaven's priceless treasure, became poor, that through His poverty we might be rich. We are
to follow the path He trod" (Ibid., pp. 416, 417).
18. What wonderful promises does Jesus make to us if we follow Him all the way? Matthew 19:27, 29
19. To whom will the gates of the heavenly City one day be opened? Isaiah 26:2
God will not accept a halfhearted surrender. Jesus said that it is impossible to serve two masters "No man can serve two
masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. ye cannot
serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24).
"It is true that there may be an outward correctness of deportment without the renewing power of Christ. The love of
influence and the desire for the esteem of others may produce a well - ordered life. Self - respect may lead us to avoid the
appearance of evil. A selfish heart may perform generous actions. By what means, then, shall we determine whose side
we are on?"
"Who has the heart? With whom are our thoughts? Of whom do we love to converse? Who has our warmest affections and
our best energies? If we are Christ's, our thoughts are with Him, and our sweetest thoughts are of Him. All we have and are
is consecrated to Him. We long to bear His image, breathe His spirit, do His will, and please Him in all things. . . ."
"When, as erring, sinful beings, we come to Christ and become partakers of His pardoning grace, love springs up in the
heart. Every burden is light, for the yoke that Christ imposes is easy. Duty becomes a delight, and sacrifice a pleasure. The
path that before seemed shrouded in darkness, becomes bright with beams from the Sun of Righteousness."
"The loveliness of the character of Christ will be seen in His followers. It was His delight to do the will of God. . . . In the heart
renewed by divine grace, love is the principle of action. It modifies the character, governs the impulses, controls the
passions, subdues enmity, and ennobles the affections. This love, cherished in the soul, sweetens the life and sheds a
refining influence on all around" (Steps to Christ, pp. 58, 59).