Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me". (Matthew 19:21)
Sometimes in English we use phrases whose meanings lie in the past. ‘Burning your boats’ is one of these. A story is told of Hernán Cortés who, in 1519, led a large expedition to Mexico in order to capture treasure that reportedly was there. Upon arrival, Cortés destroyed his ships to send a clear message to his men, ‘there is no turning back’. They would either win, or they would perish. Within two years, Cortés and his men had conquered the Aztec Empire.
‘Burning boats” represents a commitment to a point of no return, crossing a line you can never turn back from. There is no looking over your shoulder. Everything now — all thoughts and efforts — must be focused on succeeding in this new reality.
In today’s verse, we see a wealthy young man being offered the chance of a lifetime; becoming a follower of Jesus. However, in order to do this, Jesus asked him to burn his boats. He was being asked to cross a line and not look back. We are told that ‘when the young man heard this, he went away in sorrow, because he had great wealth’ (Matthew 19:22). He just couldn’t take the risk. What would happen if it didn’t work out? He would have nothing to go back to. What would his friends think? And what about his family? They would think he was mad, probably bordering on insanity!! Could he really risk ALL to follow this man?
A chance given and a chance lost.
What does it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, yet lose his soul? (Mark 8:36)
The same chance is given to us. The same call comes to us, ‘Come, follow me.’ The question is ‘Have you burned your boats”?
Keep pressing onwards beyond your fears
And only your Father goes before you
To your own frontier, you're a Pioneer"
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Struthers Memorial Church is a registered Scottish Charity No. SC 006960 | Struthers Memorial Church is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in Scotland Company No SC335480 | Registered Office: 33 West Stewart Street, Greenock, PA15 1SH.