The Pass Mark
For every examination, the examiner always sets the least qualifying mark called the Pass mark. This mark which could also be referred to as the ‘cut-off’ point varies from one examiner to the other. An examiner for example may set his examination and demand that a student should at least score 50% to pass. Sometimes, some students may read and work very hard to score 49. 9%. It is worthy of note that as close as 49.9 is to 50, they are not the same. There is a world of difference.
There are different examiners with different attitudes. Some examiners cannot see money and insist on the pass mark. Once a student is aware that she or he did not write well and so is not too sure to score the pass mark, an alternative arrangement could be made to make up for the mark.
Some masculine examiners may not even demand money, but sexual relationship with the female student to pass her. Sometimes external examiners may come for supervision and demand neither money nor sex, but goats and yams in order to pass a student.
Therefore in academics, many people are using certificates that do not carry their actual intellectual ability. Something happened between them and the examiner. That secret… only the Lord God can reveal it, either in this life or hereafter. But surely, I know that it must be revealed someday, because it is written:
“For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” (Luke 12:2-3 KJV)
Maybe all your life, you have been a very clever student who reaps where you never sowed; you have always scored very high marks even when you do not work hard. You know how to wangle your way through.
This situation is quite similar to what goes on in the spiritual relationship between the Father and us. We find God speaking about pass mark so much in the scriptures. He describes this pass mark and calls it by several names. At times He may refer to it as “The one thing that is needful”, “One thing I have against you,” “Except you be born again.” etc. All these are seeking to describe the pass mark.
Let us take a case study:
“ And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” Mk 10.17- 27.
Consider the life of this young, rich, dedicated and zealous ruler. Look at his life as a child. It is very difficult to find virgins nowadays! Before God would ever touch a life, most times the devil would have gone ahead and caused defilement.
But this young man’s story and testimony is different. Jesus mentioned quite a number of the manifestations of the FLESH, which majority of us were victims, but this was the reply of this young man. He said, “All these have I kept, observed, rejected from my youth.” Perhaps this was as the labour of his parents over him or perhaps he grew where there was no sin.
“And he replied to him, Teacher, I have carefully guarded and observed all these and taken care not to violate them from my boyhood.” Verse 20 Amp.
Here we find a ninety-nine per cent fellow who wanted to make Heaven. He kept almost all the Biblical commandments. He never wasted his life in alcoholism, smoking, fighting, stealing, and such things as touching illegitimate sex: he was a virgin. He kept himself from all these.
One would have thought that this man scored 100% except that as we listened to Jesus’ exhortation to him it is clear that he needed just one mark to pass.
As regards commitment, “he came running”! It is not common to see an important personality running after another person. Rich men hardly run after anybody. Rich men are usually not in haste. Rich men even have a manner of speech; they are full of mannerisms.
I was in a wedding reception when the parents giving out their daughter in marriage were called to the high table and the father told me that he had to learn to walk, talk and act as a big man that day. He had never been a father-in-law before. And he started walking very majestically and whispering things to his wife, just to play the big man and woman.
So what could have pushed and triggered the rich man’s reaction… “he came running”. Surely his zeal was genuine. He ran, he pursued the truth, he sought for the reality, and he gave all the needed attention. He wanted to know and touch the reality. He wanted this all important question to be addressed. He came running. Not many people show this level of zeal and commitment for what they even believe.
One other good thing to learn from the life of this man is that he was a very humble and thirst man. He did not start his enquiry by making any bogus self-introduction. He went straight to the principal matter: “Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17)
This man was hungry for life, not for religion. Some people’s zeal starts and ends in religion. He was not discussing burning of candles; neither was he eager to know about religious hierarchies, he was not after all manner of religious uniforms, whether he should be wearing white or black. He did not care for Jesus to make him a multi-millionaire. He was not looking for seven steps 0f breakthroughs. His only persistent question was: “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life’!”
Why did this man have to run after Jesus when he was told that Jesus was passing through the town? It seems to me as if this man had sought for this answer from one Reverend or Bishop, from one Pastor or Evangelist without finding a satisfying answer. I imagine that some Reverends referred him to Jesus for a genuine answer since they themselves were not too sure of Heaven for themselves. Some other Reverends may on the other hand have taken a bolder step and told him that if only he could keep paying his tithes regularly, he will 1nherit eternal life. I see how many Pastors became rich because of this kind of men in their congregations without adequately answering their genu1ne heart cry.
Some Pastors and Congregational leaders, even counsellors, are riding cars that come from those they counsel without answering this same question for them. They have rushed for their pockets without reaching their hearts. Jesus did not take advantage of this man’s riches neither did
He lose His utterance because He saw an opportunity. He still told him the truth. This truth was nothing else than the issue of the pass mark. He said to him, “One thing thou lackest,” Mark 19:21. My brother, not many things will make people miss heaven, ‘one thing’ may be the past mark, ‘one thing’ may be the determinant of one’s destiny.
What was the ‘one thing’ for this man? Jesus said to him:
“Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. (Mar 10:21 KJV)
“Go thy way …” Jesus began to touch the heart of this discussion. Jesus began to tell this man what could possibly separate between them. That if this man was not ready to sell off all that he has, and distribute to the poor, then he should go his way.” As earlier mentioned, it may not necessarily take many things to separate from Jesus. Once the one thing is not done, once the one condition is not met, Jesus would opt for separation, “go thy way.” This meant that their fellowship and further relationship depended on this one thing, even though he had done so much since his boyhood. The zeal of a man does not make for the ‘Pass mark’. Jesus insisted on this particular one and 0nly thing and did not even congratulate the young rich man. As Jesus told him, “go thy way”. He (Jesus) was not expecting him to return if he did not meet the pass mark.
‘Go and sell all…” If he was asked to only sell some or sell most, or sell many, it would have been accepted; but that he should “sell all”… that he should not have any alternative in case God fails him later. This was too much of a risk for him.
This man, it is now clear, wanted to serve God, but he also wanted to have alternatives. He wanted to serve God only as a matter of convenience. He did not want God to be all in all, the only one on whom he would depend. He wanted to serve God plus others. When Jesus insisted that every other ‘god’ must be removed, the young man chose separation. Do you also want to serve God in the midst of other gods? God said: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” Ex 20:3. This is the first of the Ten Commandments. This man had great zeal, but wanted to flout this Pass Mark, this ‘one thing’.
Jesus went on and told him how impossible it was for any man to carry the cross of Christ while he has other gods. He also told him it was impossible to follow Him if he did not FIRST of all sell all that he had and distribute to the poor. He did not even ask the young rich ruler to bank the value, giving him a chance to make some withdrawals when he is hard up. For this particular man, this was the only thing he needed to do 1n order to be able to carry the cross and follow Jesus. What is the one thing that Heaven requires of you?
What was this man’s reaction to this message?
“And he was sad at this saying, and went away grieved” Mark 10:22 KJV
“At that saying the man’s countenance fell and was gloomy.” Amp.
“But at these words he was saddened” NAS
These were the reactions of the zealot when he met Jesus face to face, the Man he was running after and sought to hear. He was grieved, he was sad, his countenance fell, he was disappointed, and he regretted running after this hard Preacher and hear1ng Him. These and many others are the several ways people react when they encounter the hard truth. The zealot became dejected. You may be another zealot g0ing through this write-up. I am definitely not expecting you to be happy with everything being said and preached in here. For example a zealous sister who likes dressing anyhow or wearing men’s wears contrary to Gods word in Duet 22:5 that: “The woman shall not wear that which pertains unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God,” will not be happy with me.
Maybe after reading she may be sad or gloom. She may feel very bad and insult the writer, especially when she is not ready to change. She may insist that religion is a matter of the heart. Pastors should be ready to gladly lose members who would not meet Jesus’ standard. If someone in your church does not satisfy Jesus, then why are you so proud of him? If you arc asked, Pastor, what is the strength of your congregation and you say there are three hundred members in your church, does Jesus also see and count three hundred? In other words, do these three hundred meet the Pass Mark?
If Jesus would not retain a soul because that soul lacked one thing, we should also emulate Jesus.
I know that left to some of the preachers of our time, they would rain praises and congratulations on this man and say all manner of good things about him. They would make him chairman of building committees; they would put all manner of posts on him. But Jesus said to him, you lack the pass mark. Go thy way. Are you insisting on having the church hall filled to capacity, no matter who attends? You need to copy Jesus’ example.
He went away grieved. This was the final reaction of this young man. His zeal was grounded to zero. While he turned and was going away, I was carefully watching the Lord Jesus in my Spirit and asking Him some important questions.
First I thought that as the rich man was going away, Jesus would call him back and say that since he had tried so much, whatever remained, He (Jesus) would just manage him into the kingdom. Jesus did not call him back. He watched him go. That is to say that no man is more important than the Pass Mark.
Pastor do you know the implication of a very rich member, a man of great substance, leaving your church? It meant that the “chief supporter of God’s work was going away. It meant that the Chairman building committee was going away. It meant that one man whose tithes and goodwill offering settled many bills, e. g. school fees, hospital bills and telephone bills, etc. was going away! Rather than insist on the Pass Mark like Jesus, many preachers would have done all to retain the man. This man perhaps might have been the man who made this small church popular. All must be done to retain and use him even if he does not meet the heavenly requirement. Jesus would not like to use a man and dump him. Jesus would not use a man’s goods if his own life were not first of all useful to God.
Jesus watched him go away grieved and did not call him back by watering down the message. He was not too eager to touch his pocket since He had not succeeded over his heart.
Perhaps you are reading through this article and the Holy Spirit is touching a particular aspect of your life. You may make the same mistake like this rich young man and say it does not matter. What does not matter today may matter tomorrow. What does not speak today may speak tomorrow. A little thing may separate you eternally from the master.
Remember that the greatest mistake of this man was that, between Jesus and money, he chose money. Between the eternal and temporal, he chose the temporal. Be warned! Only ‘ONE THING’ may separate you from the saviour.