Summary: Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus: What Does a Fully Devoted Follower of Christ Look Like?
Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus:
What Does a Fully Devoted Follower of Christ Look Like?
In Chapters 8 and 9 Luke describes a series of miracles demonstrating Jesus’ power and authority over every obstacle we face in ministry – healing the sick, delivering the oppressed, stopping storms, and most recently, providing the necessary resources. At the end of these encounters, Peter’s conclusion is that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed One. He comes to this conclusion only after seeing Jesus’ life and ministry. Matthew’s account tells us that this revelation knowledge does not come naturally or intrinsically but comes spiritually because God revealing it to him. Jesus follows this profession with a strong warning not to tell anyone because his time is not yet. He predicts his death, specifically that, ‘he must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. This leads us to today’s passage. Jesus’ road was a difficult road. I have said a number of times that God can say something will happen because God makes it happen!
Jesus shares this with his disciples to prepare them in a couple of ways; first it describes his destiny and their destiny. The rejection of Him means the rejection of the disciples; following Jesus requires that they not to be attached to this world, its values, and its acceptance, and that following Jesus requires daily diligence.
1. To follow Jesus I must count the cost
There are three realities we must see here. As followers of Christ we share in the blessing of the message of the gospel of the kingdom, with Spirit empowerment for life and ministry. Second some blessings are not yet present in the way they will be as we wait for the return of Christ. During this period we face a present reality – that the forces of this world still have a powerful presence. We are in a war. To survive requires self denial because the forces opposed to Jesus are opposed to his followers. Therefore he tells them to take up their cross, lose ones’ life, and not be ashamed of the Son of Man. Note the context of this section is suffering, rejection, and death.
There is one point of this passage: The way to death is the way to life. The road to glory is the road to death. It is in death that we find life. Listen to Christian TV and you will not hear that message; read most tracts and they will not tell you that. When I share the gospel to people I want them to count the cost so I do not push to close the deal. I do not have to worry that I will miss my opportunity. I do not convert people God does. So I must discern; one ear in conversation; one ear towards God.
Who is this challenge given to? Everyone. Jesus speaks to all present and he speaks to all of us today. What does he tell us to do? The path to following Jesus is hard so he prepares them for the journey, what it will mean for them to come after me; to follow him.
2. To follow Jesus I must Submit myself to someone Greater and Better
Jesus gives three imperatives: deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me. The first two are prerequisites to the third. You cannot follow unless you deny yourself and take up your cross. Again to gain your life you must lose it. To deny ourselves is to give up our lives, our agendas, our plans and to give ourselves to God’s care. He is talking about a fundamental allegiance or loyalty. You must cut the connections to all other allegiances, loyalties; wanting to be in charge of my life. God needs to direct me and my life because I cannot direct it myself.
The second command is to take up your cross. The background to the cross is a Roman penalty for a criminal who has been sentenced to death for a crime. The criminal was not only crucified but he also had to carry his own cross. Listen to this, bearing the cross displayed a persons’ submission to the state. It was submitting to the authority of another. In following Jesus we bear the shame of rejection and death. Therefore submitting oneself to God and following Jesus means walking the road of suffering, rejection, and even death. My independent life is no longer. We can follow Jesus and face suffering, rejection, and even death if we know that we can place ourselves in Gods care. Doing the work of God often leads to greater problems. As a matter of fact the more effective we are the great the likelihood of greater conflict.