Following Isn't for the Halfhearted
Verse 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples,“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Yesterday's declaration must have brought joy and visions of what the future may hold for all of them, but Jesus soon pops their balloon. It wasn't going to be all the life of growing popularity that was thought to accompany the coming of the Messiah. In fact, it was going to be quite the opposite.
Imagine the shock the men must have experienced when Jesus told them that He would be suffering to the point of death, so shocked they may have missed the part of rising on the third day. They likely would have had a hard time believing just those statements but when He said it was going to be at the hands of the elders, chief priests and the teachers of the law they must have been stopped in their tracks! Yes, they knew that the Pharisees and the Sadducess didn't like Jesus' teachings but surely when they learned He was the Messiah they would change their minds. But they knew that He had told them they weren't to tell anyone that He was the Messiah. But why? That could save Him pain and death.
Peter tries to tell Jesus that it just can't happen to Him. But Jesus knew it had to. Without Him being the sacrifice for the sins of the world there could never be true redemption from sin. Jesus knew this was all part of God's great plan from the very beginning.
Then Jesus reminds them that to truly be His disciples they were going to have to commit to the same possibilities in their own life. So do we. Sure, in America we don't see much, if any, prosecution but that will not likely be the case forever. To truly follow Jesus in the way of the cross means to be ready to follow Him through the suffering that may come our way. It comes down to choosing between Jesus and the world. What's your choice?
Making it personal
Do you feel it is important to know what it costs to follow Jesus in the way of the cross? Have you ever thought about how much you are willing to give up for following Him; maybe a job, a friend, relationship with someone you care about or maybe some hobbies?
Making it personal kids
Have you ever tried to make something with only half of the needed ingredients or supplies? How about playing a game or putting a puzzle together with only half of the pieces? It doesn't work well does it? The same thing is true with following Jesus; if He can only use half of us because we aren't willing to let Him use all of us, He can't do all He wants to do with us.
Dear Father, help us know where we are holding ourselves back from fully following You. Give us the strength and help us follow wherever You lead. Thank You Father. In Jesus' name, amen.