One useful technological development in recent years is the Global Positioning System, or GPS. Drivers who are directionally challenged can tell their smartphones where they would like to go, and GPS will identify their current location, orient them in the correct direction, and guide them to their goal.
The man in today’s passage was in need of direction. He came to Jesus with a question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 17), and Jesus’ kind answer reoriented him. The man was mainly interested in himself—how he had kept the law in the past and how he could be assured of an eternal reward in the future. But instead of giving him directions to heaven, Jesus had compassion on him and showed him that his greater need was to know and serve God.
At first glance, it might seem strange that Jesus evangelized by using the Ten Commandments. He certainly wasn’t saying that the man could earn his salvation by keeping the Law! Rather, the Law should have caused the man to confront God’s holiness and his own shortcomings. As the Puritan Thomas Watson said, “Until sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet.”
Furthermore, the Law showed the man that following Christ was not simply a quick road to heavenly bliss. The Christian life requires each of us to deny self and take up our cross (see Matt. 16:24). And it is when we give up our own interests that we receive God’s gracious repayment (vv. 29–31).
Jesus’ conversation provides a model for our own evangelism. We too can have compassion, apply God’s Word to their hearts, cause them to count the cost of discipleship, and hold out the promise of heavenly treasure and a new life following Him.
APPLY THE WORD
If we are intent on evangelizing like Jesus did, we must grow in our own knowledge of God and His Word. As you study Scripture, consider how each passage shows you God’s holy and gracious character. Thank God for revealing Himself in the Bible, and be ready to bring those precious truths into your conversations with unbelievers.