Summary: Christ expects complete commitment from His followers.
A woman walked into her bathroom and saw her husband weighing himself, sucking in his stomach. The woman thought to herself, “He thinks that he will weigh less by sucking in his stomach.” So, the woman rather sarcastically said to her husband, “That’s not going to help.” Her husband replied, “Sure it will. It’s the only way I can see the numbers.”
Text: Matthew 10:32-39
In this passage, Jesus tells us what He expects of His disciples. The dictionary defines a “disciple” as “one who accepts and follows a teacher or a doctrine.” We could use that definition to define what a disciple of Jesus Christ is. A disciple of Jesus Christ is a person who follows Jesus Christ and His teachings.
Every Christian is a disciple. We read in Acts 11:26 that “the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” The disciples of Christ came to be known as Christians. I don’t see a distinction between a Christian and a disciple. Every Christian is a disciple; every Christian is a follower of Christ.
Big Idea: Christ expects complete commitment from His followers.
In this passage, Jesus tells us what complete commitment looks like in the lives of His followers.
1. Christ expects His followers acknowledge Him before others.
“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven” (vv. 32-33).
The phrase “whoever disowns me” does not refer to a moment of denial. Instead, it refers to a lifelong denial of Christ. Peter denied Christ three times one night, but he never denied Him again. We present-day followers of Christ might have had our moments of denial, but we have repented of our sin and proudly announce today that Jesus Christ is our Lord.
A disciple of Jesus Christ is not ashamed of the One he or she follows.
2. Christ expects His followers to love Him more than anything or anyone else.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (vv. 34-37).
Sometimes when a person becomes a Christian, his family turns against him. Therefore, a choice must be made between Christ and family. Family ties cannot be allowed to pull a disciple from complete allegiance to his Lord.
A college student once walked into a photo studio with a framed picture of his girlfriend. He wanted the picture duplicated which, of course, involved removing it from the frame. In doing this, the studio owner noticed the inscription on the back of the picture which said, “Dear Tom, I love you with all my heart. I love you more and more each day. I will love you forever and ever. I am yours for all eternity.” It was signed “Mary,” and it contained a P.S.: “If we ever break up, I want this picture back.”
There can be no P.S. in a life given to Christ. We can never break up with Him. His amazing love for us demands that we love Him for than all others.
3. Christ expects His followers to give up everything to follow Him.
“And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (vv. 38-39).
In the first century if anyone was seen carrying his cross, it was clear that he was on his way to die. Jesus uses this word picture to describe dying to our own personal pursuits and following Him completely.
Matthew Henry wrote, “Though many have been losers for Christ, even of life itself, yet never anyone has, or will be, a loser by Him in the end.”
I would rather be a complete loser for Christ (and find eternal life) than be a winner in the world’s eyes (and lose eternal life).
In Luke’s account we are told that before Jesus spoke these words, “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus” (Luke 14:25). But the crowds gradually disappeared. And we know the reason why. It was because Jesus demanded total commitment from His followers. He made sure people knew that the cost of discipleship was high.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’