Summary: Are we just followers, or true disciples, of Jesus? There is a difference! If we are a true disciple, then we have rewards in heaven. If we are just followers, we may not. Let us learn about the demands of discipleship.
It is possible to be a follower of Jesus without being a disciple; to be a camp follower without being a soldier of the king; to be a hanger-on in some great work without pulling one’s weight. Someone was talking to a great scholar about a younger man. He said, “So and so tells me that he was one of your students.” The scholar answered, “He may have attended my lectures, but he was not one of my students.” There is a world of difference between attending lectures and being a student. It is one of the supreme handicaps of the church that in the church there are so many distant followers of Jesus and so few real disciples.—William Barclay
IF ANY MAN WILL COME AFTER ME… MATTHEW 16:24a
In the world that we live in today, commitment is a rare commodity. Commitment means that you will cling to something and refuse to let go of if it, no matter the cost. Too often, though, in our soft and pampered lifestyles, we have no idea what real commitment means. We get too comfortable in our easy chairs with our remotes, when we are called to a mission that could cost us our lives. Have we REALLY calculated the cost it takes to be a disciple?
READ LUKE 14:27-28
The word "count" literally means pebble. It is used in reference to a one-on-one count. “Well this tower is going to take 229,487 bricks. And it’s going to take 37,329 pieces of steel. Do we have that much on hand.” THAT is the kind of measuring that Jesus calls for when we are calculating what it will take to keep our commitments.
Can I finish the course: Can I follow Christ to the end? Can I be a faithful husband or wife for life? Am I willing to pay the price to godly parenting? If I am unwilling, I have no business making the commitment in the first place.—James MacDonald in Seven Things to Change Your Family
LET HIM DENY HIMSELF... MATTHEW 16:24b
Once we have calculated the cost of commitment in following Christ, we are instructed to kill our old man, and crucify our old ways of living and thinking.
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Romans 6:6
Not only are we to understand that we are kill off our old ways of living and thinking, but we are told how to do it. Paul told us in Romans 12 to “present our bodies a living sacrifice” and to “not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds.”
This all sounds well and good, but why is this so important?
A little hobby of mine is collecting old Coca-Cola memorabilia. One of my prized possessions is this old bottle from around 1910 to 1920. It was made at the Charleston Bottling Works in Charleston, WV.
Many of you will doubtlessly remember when soda came in a glass bottle like this, not in plastic bottles like today. When you bought just one, or a carton of bottles, you were required to pay a 10 cent deposit. Then when you brought the bottle back, you either got your deposit back, or it went toward the next carton of bottles.
The idea was that the bottling company was just loaning the bottle to you. You did not own the bottle, you owned the soda.
In just the same manner, if you have committed yourself to Christ, you no longer belong to yourself, for the Bible tells us:
Ye are not your own…For ye are bought with a price... 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
To whom do you belong? Are you acting like it? Are you crucifying your own lusts and desires to bring glory to the King?
TAKE UP HIS CROSS… MATTHEW 16:24c
The first thing that we must understand about carrying is that every disciple WILL have a cross to carry. It is impossible to expect to be a true disciple and be free of trials, tribulations and troubles. And when you start to TRULY follow Christ and follow him, you can expect them to multiply, because the devil will be there to try to stop you.
Second, we must understand that the imagery here is of a Roman crucifixion. The Roman soldiers would fix a cross beam for the convicted felon to carry on his journey to death. Every disciple must take up his own cross that God has wisely made just for us on our journey through life, until we die. We are not to bear someone else’s cross, for it is made not for us. While we can “bear one another’s burdens,” we must carry our own cross.