Summary: what does it mean to follow Jesus? This sermon uses taking up our cross to explain what a disciple is.
What is a Disciple?
What is a disciple... specifically, what is a disciple of Jesus Christ?
Someone who believes in Jesus? One who joins the church? One who reaches some level of spirituality?
Based on Jesus’ own words, found in our verses for today I will tell you a disciple is not a saved person or someone who believes in Jesus.
How? Because in these verses Jesus is talking to believers or saved persons... the disciples/apostles.
18 “Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him..”
These with Him were definitely believers with a high level of spirituality.
And Jesus tells them that MORE is required if they wanted to follow Him.
What is the MORE? Why is it required?
First of all... let’s start at the beginning... “IF”
This word speaks of CHOICE and SEPARATION
IF means you can choose... yes or no.
Jesus realized that not all followers were equal.
They were EQUALLY LOVED... EQUALLY SAVED... EQUAL OPPORTUNITY.
But not all would CHOOSE to follow equally.
Some would follow closely... others at a distance
Some would follow constantly... other periodically
Some would follow when costly... others when easy
Listen... many preach you can only be a disciple if you are 100%
NOT TRUE. There are many 50% followers, some 60%, etc.
They are followers... but they are NOT NECESSARILY CHRIST-PLEASING followers.
I’m telling you right now... you can be a follower if you don’t witness... if you don’t get rid of that besetting sin... if you don’t read the bible regularly.
What kind of follower will you be?
Look at it this way...
There are ball players... and there are ball players
There are cyclists... and there are cyclists
There are disciples... and there are disciples
The question is DO YOU WANT TO GO FARTHER...DO YOU WANT TO FOLLOW HIM MORE NEARLY?
IF... because not all do choose to be closer... you want to follow more closely..... HERE IS HOW
I call it 3D Christianity because there are three things you have to do and each starts with a D.
1. DENY YOUR SELF
You know the self... that is the person who looks back at you when you look in the mirror.
Pinch your arm... the guy that said Ouch... that was the self.
The “Self’ that you are to deny, Self-ish, Self-centered thoughts, desires, actions, etc.
WHEN are we to DENY THE SELF? All the time?
You can never have a piece of pie... because you have to deny the self that likes pie?
I had a friend who did this. He would choose things he really liked and he would decide to deny himself of that thing for a day.
Is that what Jesus meant about denying yourself?
We are to DENY THE SELF WHEN the self wants what is in opposition to what God wants.
I can enjoy banana puddin’ and still please God... I do not have to deny myself puddin’.
I cannot tell lies and still please God...
Lies cause me to take a detour from the straight and narrow path
Thus I have to deny self the lie
And lust... and love of money... and mistreating my brother... and selfishness and greed...
When do I have to deny the self? I HAVE TO DENY...SAY NO TO... THE SELF WHEN WHAT THE SELF WANTS IS IN OPPOSITION TO WHAT GOD WANTS.
2. DEFER/ DISCONNECT
Jesus used the words “Take up your cross...”
What is the cross?
IT IS NOT: your sickness, your weakness, your suffering, your trials
The cross is an instrument of death! It is a way to KILL!
Taking up our cross is not US dying to things that are in opposition to God’s will.
That was DENY
The command to take up your cross is not redundant... repetition
It means... carrying the cross means you are ALWAYS READY TO PUT TO DEATH OTHER THINGS that are in opposition to God’s will.
They did not have guns, but that would be easier to understand.
If Jesus had told the disciples, bring your gun... so you can KILL anything that gets in the way of following me.
I know... this is shock language... to make the point.
Is it more shocking than what Jesus said?...
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Jesus said you have to hate your mother, wife and kids. If you put the two scriptures together it says...
You have to carry your cross and be willing to crucify mother, child, spouse or anything or anyone that would be in opposition to God’s will or cause you turn away from following Jesus.