What is holding you back from living a life of full surrender to God? For most of us, there’s something. Something we just can’t quite seem to let go of. Something we hold on to, but what we don’t understand is whatever we’re holding on to is holding us back.
Jesus met a young man who did everything right in his life. He followed all the rules, checked all the boxes, and looked really good on paper. However, there was one thing he just couldn’t surrender, so the thing he held on to held him back. What was that thing? It was his money. Now, as we read this story together today, don’t dismiss yourself because you don’t have money. You have something. Something you’re holding on to. And that something is holding you back.
We find the story in Mark 10: 17-27:
“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.”
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 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.”
The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
What did the rich man hold on to? His riches. His wealth was his identity. To give it up, he would give up everything that made him special. Who would he be without his money?
Understand what was happening here was the invitation of a lifetime. Jesus was literally inviting this young man to be one of his closest friends, a disciple. Look, he says, “come, follow me.” This is precisely what he said to Peter and Andrew on their fishing boat. “Come, follow me.” Their reply was to leave everything they had and go with Jesus.
This was the invitation offered to a young man with great wealth. Jesus didn’t want his money, Jesus wanted his open hand. Let go of all you hold on to so tightly, and come, follow me.
What I love most is the comma in Jesus’ response. Come (comma) follow me. It wasn’t come follow me. It was first, come. Meaning go. Now. Take immediate action. Jesus is literally calling him to action. Do this and do it now. Don’t think about it. Don’t make a 12 step plan for it. Don’t try to understand it. Come.
Then, there’s a comma. A slight separation to serve as a pause. Come, that’s the action. After the comma is the how. Follow me. How you will do what I’m asking you to do is to follow me. I will show you how. I will guide you. You don’t have to understand it first, you just have to trust me.
But for this young man, giving up his money to follow Jesus would mean giving up the most important thing in his life. His choice was to not open his hand and he went away sad. Because he refused to surrender to Jesus and instead hold on to the most important thing in his life, he actually missed the most important thing in his life. He went home to his money, but he forfeited the invitation of a lifetime.
Jesus is saying, “Come, follow me.” What’s holding you back? What’s holding you back is whatever you’re holding on to. It’s what has made you YOU.
Is it your success? You’ve worked so hard to become who you are, and if you let that go, who would you be?
Is it your plan? You’re a planner, a thinker, an organizer, a perfectionist of sorts. And Jesus could radically wreck your plans, so you keep him at a distance.
Is it your pain? You’ve been hurt, and that hurt proves you were the victim and they were wrong. If you really let that pain go, would it mean all that happened to you was dismissed? Would it mean walls have to come down and you would have to be vulnerable again?
Is it your crutch? You know, that thing that helps you cope. That thing that takes the edge off. That thing that makes you feel better and really, you just want to feel better, so why would you give it up and feel worse?
What are you holding on to? You’ll let go of everything else, but not this. You can’t release this. Even if the truth is it holds you back, you just can’t. How? How would you ever let go of this?
Jesus says, “Follow me, I’ll show you how.”
I’ll show you how to live freely without the need to perform.
I’ll show you how to stop being so overwhelmingly concerned about what everyone else thinks of you.
I’ll show you how to heal these relationships.
I’ll show you how to trust again.
I’ll show you how to live for today without worry of tomorrow.
I’ll show you how to regain balance in your crazy life.
I’ll show you how to let go.
I’ll show you how to feel better.
You don’t have to know how. I’ll show you if you follow me.
So again, Jesus says, “Come, follow me.”
Come. Right now. Here. Today. At this moment, make the all-in decision. Open your hand and release what you’ve been holding back. When you do, you will be released too. Released from what’s been holding you back.
Follow me. I’ll provide for you every step of the way. I’ll give you strength. I’ll give you willpower so you never have to go back again. I’ll give you more joy than you’ve ever known before. I’ll show you all the beautiful things you’ve been missing, and when I do, you will never want to go back. Just follow me.
What does Jesus want? He wants what you’ve been holding back. He wants you to fully trust him.
Why? So he can show you the fullness of life he really came to give you. Not this little life you’ve been stuck in. This little life of performance, fear, chaos, old stories, doubt, imbalance, and chains. Follow Jesus and he will set you free from all of that! Open your hand, Sis. Let it go. Trust him enough to just let it go.
Sure, this young man having an encounter with Jesus was rich, but it was a little life. A big house doesn’t mean a big life. A new car doesn’t mean a new life. A successful career doesn’t mean a successful life. That pretty picture is a freaking mess for real, isn’t it?
We read this man’s story today as a lesson and a warning. He held on to his riches so tightly that he missed everything else. It makes me wonder, is that us? Are we holding on so tightly to our fears, to our story, to our past, to our success, to our plans, to our crutches, to our excuses, that we’re forfeiting the fullness of life Jesus is offering?
This is the offer of a lifetime right here today. Jesus says, “Come, follow me.”
Come (comma) follow me.
Do it now. I’ll show you how. Open your hand.