The Call To Follow
Luke 9:23 (ESV) – And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
I have a Jewish friend that I enjoy very much. He is funny and smart. We share so many things in common. In fact, I had a conversation with another pastor who is a mutual friend with the same guy and we both remarked on how we enjoy this man more than we do some Christians who are our brothers and sisters in Christ. This Jewish friend is not a born-again believer. He respects Jesus, and speaks with a reverence about Jesus, but he isn’t yet a disciple.
What is the reason this man isn’t a Christian? In conversations with him, the reason I believe he is hesitant to follow Jesus isn’t because of the lack of evidence in Jesus’ resurrection or unbelief in His claims. No, I believe my friend’s hesitancy is the cost it would be for him to become a Christian. He is a proud Jewish man with a family full of other Jewish people. For him to follow Jesus as the Christ would cost him. I think that is the last barrier.
This is exactly what Jesus told us would be required in order to be His disciple. We read in Luke 9:23, “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’”
What does this mean? Jesus refers to denying ourselves and taking up our cross daily. The act of denying ourselves means that we do not put our self-interest first. We are no longer our own masters. We deny any comforts or status that get in the way of following Jesus. To take up our cross daily is a reference to dying to ourselves. The cross was an instrument of death. To purposefully take up your own cross each day means that you lay down your life and control in order to live for Christ’s calling. This is Jesus’ appeal to anyone who wants to be His disciple. There is a cost.
I believe this is the last thing keeping my Jewish friend from following Jesus. There is a cost, a death, that he must embrace in order to follow the Lord. I pray he is willing to do it. But I also pray I am willing to keep doing it each day too. We must all pay the price daily.
The death to self and taking up of the cross is a lifetime journey that all who love Jesus must keep paying. Our lives are not our own. We do not get to set the terms and conditions of following Jesus. He does. We deny ourselves and obey Him.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why does Jesus raise the bar so high in order to be His disciple?
- What is the most difficult thing about denying ourselves and taking up our cross each day?
- How does this specifically look in your life? How would you explain it to someone else?
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