John 15:1-9, Ephesians 2:1-10, Luke 1:30-37, 18:24-30, Mark 10:23-31
The words caught them all by surprise. Jesus has just told a man to give all his possessions to the poor and follow Him, and the man walked away in sadness. What happens next will throw them in deeper: in verse twenty three of chapter ten, Mark mentions that Jesus looked at His disciples right as the man was leaving; every time we read in the gospels of Jesus looking at His disciples, a specific lesson was about to be introduced, and its impact for our lives is urgent if we want to learn what surrender means. The past two days we have seen how following Christ reverses the way we should live and see things: the man who had everything invested in this life had nothing in eternity, and Jesus, the Savior who had nothing in the world’s eyes had everything he needed for now and forever (the “rich man” was poor, but the “poor man” was rich). We have seen the demands of surrender, but now we will witness the impossibility of surrender apart from the Holy Spirit.
Mark 10:23-27 ESV
And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
Notice here that Jesus mentions how difficult it is to enter God’s Kingdom if you have wealth, because the love of money will blind you to seeing how desperate and poor your soul really is without salvation (it is important to realize that you ARE rich compared to the rest of the world). It is so difficult that even if a camel could fit through the eye of a needle (don’t try this at home!) that would be considered an easier task! However, Jesus includes everyone when He says that it is “difficult” to enter heaven. In fact, in the words of Jesus salvation is impossible! Considered this for a second: this means mankind has no tools to be able to save themselves: We are neither able nor completely willing on our own. Sounds discouraging, but that’s where we see what God IS capable of, and realize who has the power of surrender. Surrender comes through God for us to truly live in Him. The air of our spiritual lungs must be filled before they can breathe; we need the life-giving power God can provide. There’s the mystery: we have to surrender what we are not capable of, in order to be capable to surrender!
Read the words of Jesus again: “With man this is impossible, but not with God”. – v. 27 Two other passages of Scripture come to mind: Remember in John fifteen, what Jesus says about being the vine and we the branches? “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Or in Luke, when the Angel Gabriel tells Mary that she will have a son as a virgin and her cousin Elizabeth (mother of yet-to-be-born John The Baptist) will have a baby in old age, he tells her, “For with God nothing will be impossible”?
It seems that God has a reputation for being more capable than we are, why then shouldn’t we trust Him with our lives? In order to surrender completely, you have to surrender your limited ability to surrender. Without the Holy Spirit purifying us, we return to the same old sins like a dog returns to its vomit (gross right)! You are powerless on your own, but God is powerful. Sin will knock you out if the fight is in your hands, but if the Holy Spirit empowers you, then nothing will be impossible. Salvation starts with the grace of God and leads us to God.
Recognize today that Jesus does not demand strength, but weakness to please Him. Give up the fight, and get in focus. Trust Him in prayer with today’s burdens, cares, worries, and thank Him for every thing in your life. Recognize He’s there to help, and humble yourself and turn your focus from your ability, to God’s victory over the sin which entangles you and be obedient with the clear conscience that comes with forgiveness and following Him daily.