Summary: Following Jesus demands self-deniaal and taking up a cross daily.
“Wherever He Leads I’ll Go!”
David P. Nolte
A man took his new hound out hunting for pheasant but it was the dog's first day in the field. Just a young hound, not experienced in a disciplined hunt, his nose took him in all sorts of directions.
First he saw a rabbit trail and immediately started sniffing. Soon, he discovered the trail of a deer and began follow it. His nose indiscriminately led him to track a squirrel, a fox and a porcupine. His interest in tracking ended when he came upon a skunk and experienced a scent he will never forget. And the man had second thoughts about taking the dog hunting again without more training. He didn't want to go here and there at random; he wanted to go where there were pheasant.
We are called, invited and urged to follow Jesus. But what does that entail? It means we must let Him lead, we must go the same way He is going, we must be in agreement with Him. And in the text Jesus makes it clear that following Him means bearing a cross.
Some folk mistakenly believe that pain is a cross to be borne; or that rebellious children are a cross to bear; or that bad health is a cross to take up. Without being dogmatic in the matter, it is my understanding that all unchosen pain, suffering, heartache, or hardship that may be thrust onto, us apart from our choosing, are thorns in the flesh but not "our cross to bear." I did not choose Parkinson's but I got it and it's a thorn in my flesh but not a cross. A cross is what we take up for Jesus' sake. It may be rejection, suffering, pain, shame, and even death. But Jesus is totally candid with those who choose to follow Him that it will always involve a cross!
The song by Alan Jackson said, "Wherever He Leads I'll Go." Jesus invites all who will to follow Him, saying, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23 (NASB).
What do we need in order to follow Jesus?
I. WE MUST DESIRE TO FOLLOW:
A. Jesus' words pertain to anyone who wishes to follow Him.
1. The word for "wishes" is variously translated, "wants, desires, intends, wills."
2. The implication is that following Jesus is a volunteer affair.
3. The compulsion is His love and our desire to please Him.
4. We are not constrained, or pressured, or coerced – we choose to follow.
B. We ought to be compelled by
1. Love for Him as He has loved us.
2. The abundant, eternal life He gives.
3. The forgiveness of sin and a clear conscience.
4. The God glorifying, worthy purpose in life he gives.
C. But many follow Him (or make it look like they are following Him)
1. To curry His favor and gain His blessing.
2. To impress God and others.-
3. To earn a spot in Heaven.
D. Ruth exemplifies willingness and desire to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi. Naomi's two sons had died leaving her a childless widow. She was going to leave Moab and return to Judah. She bade her two daughters-in-law goodbye and Orpah sadly departed; but Ruth said,"Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me." Ruth 1:16-17 (NASB).
E. When we were in Klamath Falls, there was a little girl, Shelby, about 5 years old. One Sunday, as I was going from place to place, I noticed that little thing was going everywhere I went. When I noticed her she giggled and said, "I'm following you around." But no one told her, or forced her, she did it because she wanted to.
We must desire to follow Jesus!
II. WE MUST DENY SELF;
A. The word for deny means: "to refuse or to disown."
1. It does not mean anything like, "I deny that I exist!"
2. It is a matter of self-control.
3. It is being able to say, "No!" to yourself in temptation.
4. It is the setting aside the ego, the "Big I, little you," outlook.
B. The Bible uses the word, "dying" or "death" to mean putting something off or ending something:
1. "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Romans 6:11 (NASB).
2. "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry." Colossians 3:5 (NASB).