Summary: This sermon deals with 3 things we must do to be a disciple according to Jesus's invitation to come follow Him.
Picking Up Your Cross
We are in week 5 of our Insanity For Christ series. We have looked at Who Is God--Why Jesus, Who Am I-- Why Am I Here, What’s The Cost, Fanatic or Fair Weather Fan and today we look at Picking Up Your Cross. Let me ask you something, have you ever pretended to be a part of a group or of something, but you knew inside that you were just trying to pass yourself off as one of them. You knew all along who you were, but those around you couldn’t tell.
One person who did a brilliant job of passing herself off as something she was not in the bible, is Esther. Esther was an orphan. Her mother and her father had both died. She had an older cousin by the name of Mordecai, who took Esther and raised her as his own daughter. But then the nation was conquered by another country and Mordecai and Esther were carried away from their country into this foreign nation. You can read the story in the book of Esther, but through a series of events, this foreign immigrant becomes the queen of the empire. Mordecai had told her not to let anybody know that she was a Jew. He wanted her to pass herself off as one of the people from the country.
Esther had everything going her way. As the queen, she knew the best standard of living with the finest of everything life had to offer in the empire. Then came that day in which Esther was going to have to come clean as to who she was, because a law went forward that all the Jews in the kingdom were to be destroyed. The person who pushed for the law had no idea that the queen was a Jew. Only Mordecai knew that Esther was a Jew.
Mordecai told her, go in and plead for the life of your people to the King. Esther said, “I would if I could, but I can’t.” I have to wait for the king to call on me. If I go in to him, I could lose my head. That’s the rule. Mordecai said, “it’s a risk you need to take. Maybe the reason you are the queen is to be able to help us out. If you don’t rise up, don’t think your position will save you. Somebody else will be chosen to save us.”
Esther said, “There is one chance. If the king reaches out his scepter when I enter his presence, I won’t be killed. So fast and pray for me for three days. After that, I will go and see the king. If I perish, I perish.” Esther made the decision to throw in her fate, with the fate of her people. She chose to risk losing everything in order to find something much more significant. She did not really know what was going to happen if she followed Mordecai’s advice.
All of us are here are following somebody or something. The question is, who or what or we following. Some of us are following after a dream. What we do is based on us trying to get that dream fulfilled. It may be obtaining a cell phone, a new Mercedes, a college degree, or a boyfriend or wife. It could be trying to look like a certain person, sing like a certain person, or live like a certain person. It affects the decisions that we make. Who or what we follow determines our behavior and it also determines our destination? Sometimes we might get everything we seek and then be challenged to let it go. It’s easy to talk about “I do love God.” When in fact all we mean is that “I want to go to heaven when I die.”
Jesus recognizes more than anyone else, that everybody is following somebody or something. He ran into a guy that was following his money. He ran into a woman that was following after men. He ran into a guy that was following traditions. He ran into some guys who were following after careers. He gave them all the same message, “come follow me.”
In our reading today, we find the words “Whoever wants to be my disciple, must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Now Jesus does not discriminate against anybody. Whoever includes anybody and everybody. It covers age, sex, status, orientation, sin condition, education, race and community standing.
It is an option and not a command. The person has to choose to want to be a disciple of Jesus. If you do not choose Jesus, it does not deny the reality of Jesus or the truth of Jesus, you simply put yourself outside of Jesus’s promises. So if you are a whoever and you have a desire to become a disciple which is a follower of Jesus, then here is what you must do.