A friend recently asked me to recommend some good books on the parables Christ taught. As I got to looking through my material, I re-found some material that I really like. Thanks for asking, Jackie!
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. Mark 10:21
"The invitation of Jesus is: "Follow me.": Looked at in the context of the immediate situation, it was abundantly clear that following Him was a dangerous thing. The orthodox were against Him; the Scribes, Pharisees and Rulers were out to eliminate Him. His cause looked like a losing one. He seemed to be inviting men to face death. He seemed to be saying,"Are you willing to sacrifice everything, security, safety, comfort, and possibly life, to follow me?" The willingness to risk is the price of entry into the kingdom.
Studdert-Kennedy has a poem which tells of the crucifixion of Jesus and how the soldiers gambled for his clothes beneath the cross. It goes on:
He was a gambler too, my Christ.
He took His life and threw
It for a world redeemed.
But ere His agony was done,
Before the westering sun went down,
Crowning that day with its crimson crown,
He knew that He had won.
In the middle ages there was a company of men called the parabolani, which means “the gamblers.” They gambled with their lives. Where there was plague, where there was trouble, where there was risk, wherever a man might take his life in his hands to help others, they were there. Certainly it means risk to unqualifiedly follow Jesus Christ. Few have accepted that risk."
Barclay, William. And Jesus Said: A Handbook on the Parables of Jesus, Westminster Press., Philadelphia:1970, pages 77-78.