One Thing vs. Everything
The man who came to Jesus is someone we would consider “good.” If he was in your military community, he would attend chapel and might serve as an usher. He would be squared away as a leader and would live his life by good and honorable principles. He would have a chest full of medals representing his wealth of experience over multiple deployments and years of sacrificial service to his nation. He looks forward to the day he will retire comfortably on his military pension. He comes to Jesus and asks what he has to do to have eternal life. Perhaps he is feeling a bit empty, even nervous. Surely there must be one more thing he can do to be certain. Jesus tells him that to receive eternal life he must give up his medals, his service, and his military pension, and follow him. The man walks away grieving because his medals, his service, and his military benefits are his identity and his security.
What are you willing to give up to be a follower of Jesus? The rich man who approached Jesus thought maybe he just needed to add something to his already noble activities. He wanted Jesus to say “add this one thing,” but instead Jesus said to give up everything.
Jesus does not make this direction to selling everything into a blanket requirement to following him, nor was he saying all his disciples must live in poverty. But the actions of Jesus emphasize that eternal life is not something we are able to obtain by virtue of our possessions, strength, wisdom, or authority. Dedication to Christ and his mission is not just something to add on to the other things that are important. The challenge of Jesus to those who would follow him is total commitment.