In Mark 10:17-22, we often have studied (or taught our Sunday school students) this familiar story of the rich man who asked Jesus what to do in order to gain eternal life.
After Jesus established that the man has obeyed the commandments since his youth, Jesus tells him to go and sell all he has and give it to the poor, then "take up the cross, and follow me."
Jesus' love is demanding - it isn't a feeling like the world often implies. He doesn't want your heart, He wants your life.
I sometimes wonder whether this young man thought he was getting good news or bad news. The Bible tells us he was "sad at that saying and went away grieved," but was it bad news?
This is the only story where Jesus calls someone to follow Him and it seems that they refused.
Did Jesus trust him to do it, knowing that the young man could be strong enough to obey? Maybe Jesus was helping a young person to break the shackles of wealth and parental expectations. Jesus' love demands a lot, but He provides the strength to do all the things He requires of us.
Jesus' love is active and specific.
"Go," "sell," "give," "take," and "follow" are all very active verbs.
Christianity is not a set of ideas but an active way of life. Jesus didn't say, "Think about me."
Rather, Jesus said, "Follow me" (and He didn't provide a map, either). He didn't tell the young man to "love me" at this point, either. He wanted to love him with His peculiar, demanding, active love.
With those active verbs, He gave the man specific duties, too. To be loved by Jesus is to be given an assignment. We can't just love Jesus by singing Him a pretty song on Sunday.
We must link our affection to Jesus with our active obedience.
Jesus' love is transforming. We are called to follow Jesus in every Bible text about Him. A lot of what Jesus said sounded absurd, but it was supposed to sound that way because of our present way of life.
We must be transformed. Nothing He said was meant to stabilize our present situation. He meant to rock our world and to shake us out of our comfortable and complacent lifestyle.
The Holy Spirit can empower us to transform, if we ask.
The end of the story in Mark 10:25 says that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into Heaven.
The camel through the needle is possible. Our hope is replenished in verse 27, where we learn that all things are possible with God.
We can never obey Jesus on our own; we need a daily, fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit through prayer and our reliance on Jesus' demanding, specific, active, and transforming love.