WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
Good evening. Please open your bibles to the gospel of Mark. Our text for this evening is; Mark 10:28-31 - 28. Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. 29. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, 30. But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. 31. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.
When you are running a business the bottom line can be your focus before other aspects. You're probably familiar with a very famous quote from Henry Ford about his early cars, "They can have it in any color they like as long as it's black." When you have a very strong position in the market you can probably get away with that. Most business however are not in that position. Today, you must be in the business your customers want you to be in. The only thing your customer is thinking is, "What's in it for me?" The only thing your customer cares about is, "Will this work for me?" Just because you as a business person are partial to a particular design or style does not mean the market will share your sensibilities.
That is the way we respond on a daily basis so it is not unusual in this life for us to find ourselves in situations in which we wonder, “What’s in it for me?” Perhaps we have been asked to do some costly or difficult favor for another person. We may be asked to take on some task beyond the ordinary. We might be asked to make some sort of sacrifice for an objective or cause. It is difficult, in our humanness, not to wonder, “What’s in it for me?”
Jesus knew human nature very well. He knew that most of us do not like being in the position of having to give without expecting to receive something in return. Jesus said in Matthew 5:46 - “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?” Or he would say ... “And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others?” Jesus knew human nature. He also knew that human nature worked against the kind of attitude which suits us for the kingdom and for kingdom work. Here Peter is going to make an observation, but before we get to Peter let’s develop a little background.
I. PETER’S OBSERVATION AND QUESTION
A. The background?
1. Peter sees this young ruler who we have read about in lessons past. This young ruler comes to Jesus with a question, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus tells him to keep the commandments, to which the young man replies he has from his youth up. Then Jesus tells him to sell what he has, give to the poor and follow Him. Peter heard this young man receive from the Lord an invitation. An invitation to follow Jesus. (10:21) “take up the cross, and follow me”
2. That was not all the Peter heard and saw. He saw this young man reject the invitation that he had been given. He saw him go away grieved for he had many possessions. (10:22)
3. Peter in his mind is working around all of this in view of his own situation, just as we would. We view the world and what happens in it in the way it affects us. Out of Peter’s mouth comes this in verse 28.
B. “We have left all, and have followed thee” Compare us to this young man. He did not leave anything, he did not follow you. We have. Indeed that is what Peter had done. Let’s read in
1. Matthew 4:18-20 - 18. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. Peter had heard Jesus say, “Follow me”--the same invitation the rich young ruler heard.
2. We see that Peter and Andrew “left their nets, and followed him”. That’s the comparison Peter is asking about.
3. They left their livelihood, family, home, and so on. They left all these things in order to follow Jesus in committed discipleship. Let’s consider a passage in the gospel of Luke.
C. Luke 14:33 – “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”[NKJ] If you do not forsake everything you have, He is saying, you can not be my disciple. What is it that you possess that is of greater importance to you then your relationship to the Lord, Jesus Christ?
1. Let’s ask ourselves, have our material things, or have our relationships with people encroached negatively into our relationship with Jesus? Into our discipleship?
2. We may be faced at some point in our lives with a situation in which we have got to make this type of choice. We may have to choose between our possessions and the relationships we enjoy and our relationship to the Lord.
3. Are we going to be able to make the choice between these? Jesus says if you do not forsake everything you have you can not be my disciple. Look with me now at Matthew’s account..
D. From Matthew 19:27 - Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? Here we see Peter ask a question “What shall we have therefore?” That’s clear, isn’t it? Peter is literally asking, what is in it for me? We have left everything to follow you.
1. No doubt Peter is thinking of the rich young ruler and is comparing himself and the other disciples to that young man.
2. The young man rejected the invitation of Jesus - Peter had not
3. This then seems to be an obvious question, “What’s in it for me/us?”
II. JESUS ACKNOWLEDGES THAT SACRIFICING MAY BE NECESSARY
A. Jesus begins to answer the question in our reference. Look at Mark’s gospel in that text we have read.
1. Notice, first, that what Jesus says applies to all. “There is no man that hath left...” (10:29) and he goes on then a bit farther.
2. Jesus also says “with persecutions” (10:30) Jesus acknowledges that there may be problems and sacrifices.
3. Notice too that what Jesus is about to say does not apply only to the apostles. What the Lord is teaching here applies to anyone who would be a disciple / a follower of His. “no man” He says.
B. We need to consider what our priorities are. What are our priorities? That is the real issue that is before us. Are our priorities our homes? Our jobs? Our family? Our things? Our pleasures?
1. Go with me to Luke 14:18-20. We know this passage. This is about the man that made a great feast and invited many to come. In verse 17 we see the man sent his servant to bid the people come when the feast was ready. 18. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. His real estate meant more to him then his relationship with the person inviting him. 19. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. His things meant more to him then his relationship with the person inviting him. 20. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. His relationship meant more to him then his relationship with the person inviting him. Remember the person inviting us is the Lord.
2. As I said before, at some point in our lives we are going to be confronted with the same kind of choice of which we are reading in scripture. What is it that is so valuable, so important that we would prefer it to Him?
3. How will we choose? This is not just a mental exercise. Christian people are making these choices all the time. Every time someone chooses to do something in place of coming to worship, or to bible study a choice has been made. Every time a person chooses to not help a person in need or say something about Jesus when given the opportunity, a choice has been made.
4. Paul says in his letter to the Christians of Philippi which we have studied. Philippians 3:7,8 - 7. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, Paul had to make the choice, and he made it. He said I “count them but dung”. They don’t mean anything to me when compared to my relationship to the Lord. Let’s read on 9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10. That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11. If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. In the middle of that we see “that I may win Christ”, Paul had his priorities, you see. How do we look at the things that we have? How do we look at the relationships we enjoy? In what way are they impacting our following of Jesus?
C. Familiar words of Jesus...
1. Matthew 10:37-39 - 37. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
2. Notice the words “more than me” - there is the key. It all comes down to priority. Remember what I said this morning about our tendency to assign a first class rating to a second class cause? What do we love more then Jesus? Rich young ruler, what do you love more then Jesus? “I love my things. I love my possessions. I am not willing to sell them and give to the poor.” His attitude was I won’t injure anybody, but I’m not going to help anyone. We need to ask what do we have in our lives that we would not be willing to lay aside in favor of Christ.
3. We need to lose our interests in favor of His when the choice must be made. Jesus continues;
III. THE GREAT PROMISE TO TRUE DISCIPLES?
A. Mark 10:29-31 - 29. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, 30. But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
1. Here is the good news folks. Peter is asking “what’s in it for me?” Jesus explains that indeed there is something in it for us. I want to be sure and say it is not the “health and wealth” idea espoused by some TV preachers and in so many of the light little reading books that you might find. That promise of health and wealth if you do certain things. That is not what Jesus says. Not at all.
2. What he does promise is a very much larger family and many more treasures then we had before.
3. He says it is a “now in this time” promise. Verse 30.
4. Some people here were reared in a Christian home - did not have to “forsake” father & mother – some here however, may have been faced already with that choice. I suspect that many of us have family members with whom we have little in common except “a blood relationship”.
5. Here is the thing. In Christ we have many siblings, many children, many treasures. It is absolutely amazing all that we have in Christ. Occasionally Nina and I go somewhere for a period of time. We find that when we attend a service or bible study at a church of Christ along the way, we are welcomed with open arms by people that we find we have so much in common with. Way more in common than I have with some of my relatives. I think that is all a part of this promise that our Lord has made to Peter and to you and me. This hundredfold promise. (How much is a hundredfold by the way? Wouldn’t it be nice to get that kind of return from the bank?)
6. In Luke 8:19-21 - 19. Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. 20. And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. Look at this next amazing answer of the Lord. 21. And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it. - is this what Jesus meant when he answered Peter in Mark 10? Peter, you may have left family, you may have left mother and father, you may have left a job, but I want to tell you something. I want to tell you who your real brothers and sisters are. They are people who hear the word of God and do it. What a blessing that is.
B. There are two very important additional notes in what the Lord says...
1. We come back to this “with persecutions” expression there in Mark 10. - Jesus does not gloss over the truth of discipleship. He does not gloss over its reality.
2. It is true that in this life there are blessings - but there are also difficulties. There are and will be difficulties that are unique to the fact that we are committed Christian people. We all have problems like getting sick or not having enough money at the end of the month. These problems occur whether we are Christians or not, but there are some things that are going to happen in the life of a committed Christian person, there are some choices we are going to have to make that may be downright unpleasant. These choices are going to be difficult. They may be problematic and they may bring to us what is called persecution. Those things however, are all momentary when compared to blessing we enjoy in Jesus.
3. It is how we deal with these difficulties that tells the tale of our discipleship. That brings to mind a story I heard about an old railroad engineer named Bennie.
a. Bennie was an engineer who had done fifty-seven years of service on the Lakawanna Railroad, and had never received a demerit mark from his superior officers. He had the habit, during the greater part of his service, of removing his cap on entering his engine and uttering a prayer for God's protection on each day's run.
b. Here is one experience he described: "Number Six was twenty-five minutes late out of Scranton one day, and I had my little prayer as usual when I stepped into the cab. After I had asked for the safety of our train, I said, 'Lord, help me to bring her in on time.'
c. It was a stiff climb up the Pocono Mountains for the first part of the trip, and it never seems as steep as when you are late. I couldn't gain a second on the way up but after we dipped over the summit, things began to break just right for me. It was a beautiful day, with air perfectly clear, and we almost flew down the mountain. I just held her steady and let her go. At last the old train shed at Hoboken loomed ahead, and, as we pulled into the station I looked at my watch and we were just on the dot.
d. As I stood wiping the sweat from my face there was a tap of a cane on the outside of my cab and on looking out I saw the president of the road, all smiles, and he said to me, 'A good run, sir! A very good run!' That meant more to me than anything that could have happened in this world.
e. Then Bennie said “and, brother, when I make my last run, and pull into the Great Terminal, if I can just hear Him say, 'A good run, sir! A very good run!' the toil and the struggle down here won't matter."
4. Then Jesus says “in the life to come eternal life” – Isn’t this is the goal toward which we look? Isn’t that what it is all about?
5. This rich young ruler made a terrible choice, an unwise choice, by comparison with what he could have enjoyed as a disciple of Christ. Forfeiting eternal life, the very thing for which he sought.
6. It is possible though that some of us are making the same sort of unwise choice! Preferring to live as worldly people. Carrying the name Christian? Oh yes, but not living like we should. Not living as committed Christian people. If so, we are no wiser than the rich, young, man. As this concludes in Mark 10 Jesus says something about what I call significance.
IV. AN IMPORTANT WORD ABOUT “SIGNIFICANCE”
A. Mark 10:31 - But many that are first shall be last; and the last first. - First is last, and last is first!
1. Lest any disciple think himself to be more privileged then others because of the sacrifices he has made ...
2. Lest any disciple be “puffed up” because of the role he is privileged to play.
3. Jesus makes this simple, little statement. “many that are first shall be last; and the last first”
B. Our significance, folks, is not in our works, it is not in our role, it is not in our sacrifices. Our significance is in our staying humble.
1. Our significance is in humility that says, “I’m not important. Jesus and the gospel are.”
2. My significance is not in the fact I am privileged to speak a lesson, not in the fact that I am a father, or a husband or a friend. It is not in the work I did for my company. It is in my relationship to the Lord. That is the only significance that we have.
CONCLUSION: What’s in it for me? Everything that means anything! The call of Jesus is the call to rise above our circumstances, rise above the way life is being lived by so many. Jesus calls us. How will we answer?
We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.
Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
185—Who Will Follow Jesus. Taken from sermon by Cecil A. Hutson, 09 march 2008
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