Summary: You don’t take an oath and sign your name on the dotted line without realizing the price and sacrifice.


Text: Matthew 16:24 -27

Matthew 16:24-27  Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  (25)  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.  (26)  What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  (27)  For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done (NRSV).

Years ago, back in the summer of 1984, I tried to join the National Guard. Like many, I knew I would get a sign on bonus, but I also knew what I was signing up for. You don’t take an oath and sign your name on the dotted line without realizing the price and sacrifice. I could not get in because of my allergies being a hurdle to overcome.

The oath to join the military is clear. That oath is to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against enemies foreign and domestic, bearing true faith and allegiance to the same; obeying orders of the President and also the orders of officers that are appointed over those who take this oath according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”

Jesus did not want those who enlist to follow Him to take it lightly! Luke 14:27-28  And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  (28)  "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?

I have heard of many who wanted the perks without the price in taking that oath only to be disappointed when it came to go where their orders said that they had to go.

Both Christians and soldiers have two thing in common, they both have marching orders and high level of dedication.


What is the purpose of marching orders? Marching orders teach the recruits to walk or march in step. Everyone works in harmony with each step.

1) Teamwork: According to the author of 4th century book, Concerning Military Matters … Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus “… troops who march in an irregular and disorderly manner are always in great danger of being defeated.” & That point of view makes perfect sense when we recall what was called the Tortoise formation when the Roman army would stand side by side, shield by shield in the front and on the sides as those in the middle would elevate their shields overhead. It was next to impossible to penetrate such a “wall like formation”. This is similar to what the offensive linemen try to do on a football team to protect their quarterback from the opposing team’s linemen.

2) Spiritual Non-conformity: Another way to describe a lack of teamwork is what they call “breaking ranks which means to literally step out of a military formation”. How many have broken ranks on the spiritual level with our Lord, refusing to carry their own crosses (Matthew 16:24)?

3) Enlisted: We are thankful for those who have enlisted in the military to preserve our country’s freedom. If we are not, then we should be because our freedom came from the efforts of their sacrifice. How many are absence without leave?

4) Spiritually enlisted: Jesus calls is to be enlisted spiritually when He calls us to pick up our crosses and follow in His footsteps! Like soldiers following orders, for disciples following Jesus must be our number one priority. As Paul put it, “No one serving as a solider gets involved in civilian affairs----he wants to please His commanding officer” (1 Timothy 2:4).

5) Spiritual battleground: Paul described our battle ground and battle-gear in Ephesians 6:10 - 20.

How many are spiritually absent without leave?

1) Perks: How many want God’s blessing without dedication? Another way to put it is to ask how many want God’s blessing without doing God’s will? How many want the crown and forget about the cross? The cross always precedes the crown!

2) Breaking ranks: Can we equate spiritually breaking ranks with God’s will to disobedience?

>>>>> What was the price when Adam and Eve broke ranks and went awol in the Garden of Eden? What was the price? Death.

>>>>> What was the price for those who refused to repent before the flood? Death!

>>>>> Were Abram and Sarai awol when they disobeyed God’s Will and sought to have an heir without God? What was the price for that disobedience ---that spiritual breaking of ranks with God? Disorder, chaos, war and death.

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