Luke 19:21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
All this man could see was that Christ was a hard task-master. He thought He was demanding, that He demanded more of him than was just. When we hold this view, we do not believe the Lord Jesus. We cavil in fear before Him and are always looking for God to “get us.” Only grace can overcome our hatred of God and speak peace to our hearts. We see this grace in another example.
Mark 9:24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
Here, a father is desperate. His son was possessed by a devil. The devil threw his son into the fire and caused him to gnash his teeth. This relentless, murderous treatment by the devil of his son caused his boy’s life to shrivel away. The disciples tried, but could not cast the devil out of the boy. The father finally came to Jesus. He said to Him, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us, and help us!” Can you hear his cry? It is a lament of almost total despair. He is at the end of his rope, with no other help, no other helper. If Christ cannot help his son, he is a goner!
The Lord responds. He says, “If you can believe. All things are possible to him that believes.” It’s true. But the man admittedly doubted. Did he say, “Lord, you are too harsh! I can’t believe!” Or, did he say, “You ask too much! I believe, but you won’t accept my faith!” Oh, no. This man did what we must do. He told the truth about himself, and he was persuaded that only Jesus could help, not only his son, but his own unbelief! Isn't it interesting that when we hear this father's plea, we only remember his unbelief? His son was only the context. His unbelief was the issue. His cry is recorded for our faith, to teach us to call upon Christ as he did. We too can find from Christ faith to believe Him if we will only bring to Him what we receive from Him. As the hymn writer so eloquently put it, "All my help from Thee I bring."
If you did not have problems that you could not solve, would you ever come to the Lord Jesus Christ? Read Psalm 107. The answer is clear. "Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now have I kept Thy word. (Psalm 119:67)" If the Lord Jesus did not ask more of you than you could give, what reason would you have to go to Him for grace?
He asks perfect righteousness from us. We have it only in His obedience unto death (Romans 5:19; Philippians 2:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). He tells us we must be born again. We live by Him when we look to Him (John 3:14-15). He tells us to circumcise our hearts. We were circumcised in His death and by His Spirit in the new birth (Colossians 2:11; Philippians 3:3). He tells us to repent. Yet we can only turn to Him if He turns us (Psalm 80:3,7,19; Jeremiah 31:18-19; Acts 3:26; 5:31). He tells us to believe the gospel -- that by His life and death Christ has finished our salvation, obtained our eternal redemption, perfected us forever, established our everlasting righteousness and that we are now created by God in Christ (John 17:4; 19:28-30; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Ephesians 2:8-10; Hebrews 10:10,14). Yet we must come to Him and look to Him to believe Him (Hebrews 11:6).
“If you love me, keep my commandments.” There is no difficulty in understanding these words. But there are several wrong ways to react to them. We might say, “Well, I intend to do right, but I haven’t yet achieved my goal.” Or, “I have done some things, but have not done others.” Or, “The commandments He had in mind were the ones I am able to do.” We can make up all sorts of excuses. But only one response is correct: faith that works by love. Where does such love come from? Not from me! And not from you, if you’re honest. If we are honest, like the father of the demon-possessed son, our sin nature and spiritual impotence makes our situation desperate. Our immediate problems seem like the big issue -- like the demon in the man's son -- but something deeper lies at the root: our own unbelief. Love to Christ is the fruit of the Spirit of God. It springs from faith, which is His gift. “We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)” If I have low views of Christ, I will love Him little (Luke 7:47). But if He has forgiven me much, I will love Him much (Luke 7:47). What shall I then do? The gospel teaches us that life and all grace are in Christ alone. It teaches us that “we are not sufficient in ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but that our sufficiency is of God (2 Cor 3:5; 12:9).” The Lord Jesus Himself said, “Without me, you can do nothing. (John 15:5)” But scripture also records that, “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. (2 Cor 9:8)” And again, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13)”
Hear this command of our Master from John 15: “Abide in me, and I in you. (John 15:3)” Can you do that? If you have been taught by the Spirit of God you will have to say,
“Lord, you are the sap and spring of all my life, my all in all. If you give what you command, then command what you will. Lord, you have said, ‘Abide in Me, and I in you.’ I must be in you and you in me if I am to abide in you. I want nothing more than to be found in you, with your righteousness alone, for I have none of my own (Philippians 3:8-9). I have found it in my heart to pray these words (2 Samuel 7:27) because you have spoken to your servant in your covenant of love and peace, which you have made to me in your own blood. Let your life and death even now be all my living. Give me to abide in you, and let me never depart from resting and living upon you, because you have promised in your word, ‘I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. (Jeremiah 32:40)’ Lord, I understand this command to be your promise to me, that you will abide in me, and therefore I will never depart from you, but that you will cause me to abide in you. Help my unbelief! Give of your own self to me, your own Spirit, that I might believe and love you, even as you have told me to do! Lord, do as you have said. 'Enlarge my heart and I will run the way of your commandments (Psalm 119:32).'”