Mark 10:28

I. IS CHRISTIAN SELF-SACRIFICE WORTH WHILE?

1. A question relocatedly asked, by worldlings and by Christians themselves: by the former because they do not comprehend or perceive the things of God, and by the latter from an imperfect experience and an imperfectly matured spiritual consciousness.

2. Reasonably enough. The privation to which Christianity exposes men is sometimes extreme. They are called upon virtually or actually to renounce all things. Peter not to be accused of sordidness-of a desire to "make the best of both worlds." Life and the things of life are precious gifts with which we should not lightly or aimlessly part; and the neophyte in Christian life cannot be expected to have all his aims perfectly spiritual. Christianity is a means of raising men from the carnal to the spiritual, and it does so by gradually spiritualizing the desires and interests of the soul. It is an instinct of our being not to part with a real, tangible good unless in exchange for another of equal or higher value, although not necessarily estimated from a selfish or self-regarding point of view.

3. It is only from the highest point of view and he most advanced experience that this question can be properly and adequately answered. There is, therefore, a Divine fitness in Jesus, our Example, being the Answerer and Judge. Yet out of the most imperfect experience of the Divine life, if that experience be properly interpreted, the answer would still be satisfying and justifying.

II. THE CONSIDERATIONS BY WHICH THIS QUESTION IS DECIDED.

1. The measure of recompense. "A hundredfold:" an estimate not to be literally construed. It is intended to express "overwhelmingly more." "In the preceding verse the connective between the items is or; here it is and. There is great propriety in the exchange, for here the Savior is giving, as it were, an inventory of the Divine fullness of blessing, so far as it is available for the most ample compensation of those who have suffered loss. And there is, besides, in the spiritual sphere of things a kind of mutual involution of blessed relationships; the sum total of them all belongs to every true disciple" (Morison).

2. The manner of it. It is to be correspondent to the things renounced, although not necessarily similar in kind. "With persecutions: an addition that seems strange, but is justified in the experience of the Christian; as that which is lost is gain (cf. Matthew 5:10; Philippians 1:29; 1 Peter 3:14). He so that which is endured for Christ's sake is a new occasion and factor of blessedness. Suited to the differing conditions of this life and that which is to come. Here there is variety, objectiveness, material embodiment; there there is one grand reward, subjective, spiritual, viz. eternal life. And the relative position of Christians wilt be wry much altered from that which they occupy here. The honor and blessedness conferred will depend, not upon accident of birth or fortune, but upon intrinsic worth and direct Divine appointment. - M.







Lo, we have left all, and followed Thee.
Christ had pity for this young man. He saw his soul visited by the dream of a more perfect life; then the dissolving of the dream and the return to commonplace. It were impossible not to pity his after life, for he could never be the same again. "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God." The disciples felt the difficulty. Then Peter said, "We have left all," etc. "It was very ill done of them," we say, "very selfishly thought, and no good could come of it." That is the hard way in which we speak, but we forget, when we ask this fine spirituality from men who are beginning the higher life, that we are asking more than human nature can bear. We are asking of the student the self-denial of the scholar. Christ did not ask this; He was tender to spiritual childhood. He was satisfied with the seeds of affection. He knew that if love was there it would grow, and that as their mind advanced and their love changed to higher love, the reward desired would also change.

I. THE SACRIFICE ASKED FOR HERE WAS TO GIVE UP THE WHOLE WORLD AND ITS GOODS; TO GIVE THEM TO THE POOR AND TO FOLLOW CHRIST. Is no one a Christian who does not utterly make it? Christ always asked for sacrifice of life, of self, for God. That is the principle. In this case a special form of the life was asked for, and for a special reason. The sacrifice of wealth was the special form. The special reason was this. Christ was the founder of a new method of religion; He wanted missionaries to propagate it. No one could think of Paul or Xavier or Henry Martyn with great possessions, without a smile at the incongruity. Apostolic work could not be done by a man with ten thousand a year. The special form of the demand was motived by special circumstances. Such a demand was not made of all rich men; it would be contrary to the universal character of His religion, which was to enter into the life of all classes, rich and poor, as a spirit. It would shut out all rich men from Christianity; it would upturn society for no good. In fifty years all the industrious and intelligent would be rich again. It would be wrong; for wealth has its duties, its own ideal of life. The wealthy are bound to keep their wealth, and to use it, but in obedience to the spirit of sacrifice.

II. ALL THIS KIND OF TALK COMES FROM PERSONS BEING FOOLISH ENOUGH TO BIND A SPIRITUAL IDEA INTO ONE SPECIAL FORM. The spirit of sacrifice may express itself in a thousand different ways, even in opposite ways in different men, It may be the giving up of wealth in one man, the taking up its duties in another. One man may sacrifice by leaving those whom he loves, another by remaining at home. Take the principle; do not limit it to one meaning. That is one characteristic of the idea of sacrifice. It cannot be specialized. In one point the special demand made on the rich man is in accord with the whole idea of sacrifice; it is in its absoluteness. It asks us to give up all our selfish life. "It is an impossible demand," say these persons. It was original, and Christ knew it. It did not say, like the moral law — this, do and you shall live, and you can do it. It did say "This ideal life I set before you is far beyond mere conformity with law. It is perfection. You shall not live by doing it completely, but by loving it and labouring towards it. It will transcend eternal endeavour, and thus secure eternal progress. The morality of the law is measurable, it stops at a certain point. The righteousness I put before you is immeasurable, infinite as God." It was a higher method than that of the moralist. It is only by loving and following illimitable ideas that man grows great. Their impossibility is their highest virtue, and awakens the highest virtue; they kindle unfading aspiration. It is better for man to live by than the standard of immorality. I now turn to the question of reward as illustrated by the answer of Christ. It is the custom now to say that we are to live the high life without a single hope of future reward; to hope for it is to set religion on a selfish basis. But there is no selfishness in the doctrine of rewards offered by Christ. His rewards are naturally connected with the acts, following from them and contained in them, as a flower follows from, and is contained in, the seed. The word fruits is better than the word rewards. The fruits are multiplied results. To live, hoping for the reward of a more unselfish life, and becoming more unselfish as one hopes and acts for such a life — is it not too ludicrous to call that a selfish motive? The man who gave up lands, houses, etc., received them tenfold; but not in a way which could serve his selfishness; on the contrary, in a way which increased the spirit of a larger love. It lifted above the narrow circle of an isolated family rote union with mankind. Eternal life is another reward promised by Christ. "He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life." It may co-exist with what the world calls misery — "with persecutions." It cannot be material ease. So far, the element of ease or happiness is excluded. Love doubles itself by loving. Truth in us increases by being true. Mercy, purity, faith, hope, bring forth themselves in multiplied abundance. The sum of them all is a life with God and in God, and that is eternal life, a state of the soul. It cannot be selfish, it puts before man as his highest aim, union with God.

(S. A. Brooke, M. A.)

And the heart, do you believe that it can reconcile itself to your cold doctrine, and always love without hoping for return? It does not calculate, doubtless, but it believes that its flights do not disappear in a void. What is more disinterested than the love of a mother? Does she love her infant in order to be recompensed? Ah! though one should come and tell her that she must die before that infant can respond to her affection and reward her by a word, will she love it less, will she use the less on its behalf all that remains to her of energy and of life? Are there not every day and in all classes those martyrs of maternal love? And yet will you accuse a mother of loving less because, looking towards the future, she dreams with tremors of joy of the day when her infant's look will respond to her look, when its heart will understand her, and when she will find in it her strength and her recompense? Her recompense, I have said Well, be consistent. Call her mercenary, accuse her of devoting herself to her task through self-interest, drag her to the tribunal of the human conscience, and, if she comes away from it condemned, you shall drag there the Christian who seeks his joy and his wages in the love of God, who finds his true life there, and who thirsts for immortality, because he thirsts for an eternal love.

(E. Bersier, D. D.)

I. WHAT IS INVOLVED IN BEING A TRUE FOLLOWER OF CHRIST?

1. Partaking of His spiritual nature — being born again.

2. Resting upon the infinite merit of His atonement as the only ground of acceptance with God.

3. Sitting at His feet as a humble learner.

II. WHAT ARE THE DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FOLLOWER OF CHRIST?

1. Willingness.

2. Humility.

3. Constancy.

4. Intimacy. Not as Peter, who followed afar off.

5. Exclusiveness — Jesus only.

III. WHAT ARE THE REWARDS OF THE FOLLOWER OF CHRIST?

1. Sonship.

2. Constant access to God.

3. The presence of Christ.

4. Protection in danger.

5. Light in darkness.

6. Salvation here and glory hereafter.

(Anon.)

The man who renounces temporal advantages for Christ's sake, is rewarded in kind as follows.

1. He has communion with God and His consolations, which are better than all he has given up; as Caleacius, that Italian marquis who left all for Christ, avowed them; and as Paulinus Nolanus, when his city was taken by the barbarians, prayed thus to God, "Lord, let me not be troubled at the loss of my gold and silver, for Thou art all in all to me." Communion with Jesus Christ is heaven beforehand, the anticipation of glory.

2. God often gives His suffering servants here such supplies of their outward losses, in raising them up other friends and means, as do abundantly outweigh what they have parted with. David was driven from his wife; but gained, in Jonathan, a friend whose love was beyond that of women. So though Naomi lost her husband and children, Boaz, Ruth, and Obed became to her instead of all. The apostles left their houses and household stuff to follow Christ, but then they had the houses of all godly people open to them, and free for them, and happy was that Lydia who could entertain them; so that, having nothing, they yet possessed all things. They left a few friends, but they found far more wherever they came.

3. God commonly exalts His people to the contrary good to that evil they suffer for Him; as Joseph, from being a slave became a ruler; as Christ, who was judged by men, is Judge of all. The first thing that Caius did, after he came to the empire, was to prefer Agrippa, who had been imprisoned for wishing him emperor. The king of Poland sent Zelislaus, his general, who had lost his hand in war, a golden hand instead of it. God is far more liberal to those who serve and suffer for Him. Can any son of Jesse do for us as He can?

(John Trapp.)

1. That he does not need man's work in the sense that He must pay wages for it. There is no comparison between what is given; an hundredfold will be returned.

2. That Christian work must be done in the spirit of devotion, not of calculation. Many of the first may work in a wrong spirit, and become last.

3. The reward may not come in this life; the work is spiritual, as are the wages.

(T. M. Lindsay, D. D.)

Jesus, knowing out of the depth of His own experience how great is the joy of self-sacrifice, how transcendently superior to anything else, assures them that they will have their reward both here and hereafter. Here, in a vastly intensified appreciation of earthly enjoyments, finding new homes and new friends wherever they go, and seeing new beauty in the commonest things — in earth and air, and sky and sea. It was true they would meet with persecutions, but these would not mar their happiness, for by a mysterious law, understood by those alone who experienced them, they were accompanied by a joy unspeakable and full of glory. And hereafter they would receive the fullest compensation, an eternal weight of glory in the life everlasting.

(H. M. Luckock, D. D.)

A pious old man was one day walking to the sanctuary with a New Testament in his hand, when a friend who met him said, "Good morning, neighbour." "Ah! Good morning," replied he; "I am reading my Father's will as I walk along." "Well, what has He left you?" said his friend. "Why, He has bequeathed me a hundred fold more in this life, and, in the world to come, life everlasting." It was a word in season; his Christian friend was in circumstances of affliction, but he went home comforted.

Had Queen Elizabeth foreknown, whilst she was in prison, what a glorious reign she would have for forty-four years, she would never have wished herself a milk-maid. So, did but the saints understand what great things abide them both here and hereafter, they would bear anything cheerfully.

(John Trapp.)

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