When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:25-26
A rich man came to Jesus wondering what else he needed to do to secure his relationship with God and inherit eternal life. He had done everything he could think of and even believed that he had kept the Ten Commandments. He was a man used to doing what was necessary to get what he wanted. He simply wanted to know if there was anything else he was forgetting or neglecting.
Jesus used this occasion to reveal two truths about eternal life. First, there’s not a thing we can do to get eternal life, including doing the best we can to abide by any kind of religious laws. Second, even if we could do something, we wouldn’t be willing to pay that price. Jesus told the rich man to sell everything he had and give it to the poor. The man “went away sorrowful” because his wealth was more important than his quest for eternal life.
Even the disciples were taken back by this revelation and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus saw this as the perfect opportunity to teach the most important truth of all. Connecting with God, eternal life, salvation, and forgiveness of sin come as a GIFT from God. Our only hope for eternal life is based upon the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead.
The Bible says we are born sinners and already condemned (John 3:18). There is not a thing we can do to change that situation. That is why Jesus came to earth and had to die on a cross. He offered His life in our place and died to serve our sentence. Now that He has done that, eternal life is a GIFT that He offers but doesn’t force on us.
A follower of Christ is one who has accepted this GIFT. You can begin to see why Jesus said He would make His followers into “fishers of men.” A “fisher of men” is someone committed to sharing the Good News about the GIFT and encouraging them to receive it.
So, what are you waiting for? If you want to follow Jesus, accept His GIFT. If you are a follower of Jesus, then get the word out about His GIFT.