Summary: What does Jesus mean when he said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me?” Luke 9:23
Prerequisites for Christian Discipleship
The call of Jesus to be a disciple is a demanding call. The word “disciple” is related to the word “discipline.” A disciple is a learner and one who is teachable. A disciple is in training and following the instructions of a teacher. In our human nature we resist discipline and hardship.
The following are actual responses from comment cards given to the staff members at Bridger Wilderness Area in 1996:
Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill.
Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the areas of these pests.
Please pave the trails…Chair lifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them.
The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.
A small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call…
Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.
A MacDonald’s would be nice at the trailhead.
Too many rocks on the mountain.
(Mike Neifert, Light and Life - February 1997), p. 27
If you go to a wilderness area you should expect to rough it otherwise go to Disneyland and stay in a five star hotel.
What does Jesus mean when he said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me?” Luke 9:23
“Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33
There is a cost involved in following Jesus. Luke 14, Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow him and reach out in God’s love to all people. Jesus said, “From now on you’ll be fishing for people! And as soon as they landed they left everything and followed Jesus.” Luke 5:10-11
This morning I want to discuss three prerequisites or conditions to following Jesus.
I. The Prerequisite of Love
The call to be a disciple is similar to the invitation to become a Christian. Acts 11:26 - “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” The term “disciple” and “Christian” were interchangeable in the early church. The word “Christian” only appears three times in the New Testament: Acts 11:26, 26:28, and 1st Peter 4:16.
The prerequisites for discipleship are the same for becoming a Christian.
Jesus told his disciples to first love God with all their heart and then to love their neighbor as much as they loved themselves.
“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” Mark 12:30
Jesus asked his followers to put him first and love him with all their soul, mind and strength.
To get his message across Jesus often used hyperbole and exaggeration.
Luke 14:26-27 “If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes more than your own life. Otherwise you cannot be my disciples. And you cannot be my disciple if you do not carry your own cross and follow me.” (NLT)
The word NLT translates “love me more” in the Greek is “hate.” Jesus is saying that we must love Him more then our own family and love our family less than we love the Lord. From experience of many years I can tell you that when you love the Lord with your entire mind, soul and strength, you in fact show adequate love to your wife and family.
We demonstrate our love for God by taking up our cross daily and following Jesus. What does it mean to take up our “cross?” Is Jesus saying, “Follow me and take up all your aches and pains. Is the cross some physical infirmity, some temperamental weakness or other problem.
Jesus voluntarily took up his cross and died in our place. To take up our cross and follow Jesus means we die out to all selfishness, and anything that takes precedence over following Jesus. The Apostle Paul knew the meaning of the cross for his life. He testified, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20
The hymn we sometimes sing describes what it means to take up our cross and follow Jesus.
Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou, from hence, my all shalt be:
I will follow Thee, my Savior