12 February, 2023
FOLLOWING JESUS WHOLEHEARTEDLY(Christian Living 11)
Many people were attracted to Jesus of Nazareth because of His miracles, especially after He fed the 5,000 and the 4,000 hungry people. They even wanted to make Him king but He ran away from them. Perhaps the reason was because He saw their hearts and the wrong motives that they had. Who would not want to follow Someone Who could provide free meals and free medical services? Jesus was so popular that the Sanhedrin, the priests and scribes were scared of Him. They said, “The whole world is going after Him”!
But Jesus was not looking for numbers or mere adherents. He was looking for disciples who would commit wholeheartedly to Him and His cause. Disciples who would die for him if need be in order to build up the Kingdom of God. Hence, His harsh demands for anyone who wanted to follow Him; He said to them, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
These three demands show that only those who mean business would be ready to accept what Christ demanded of His followers. It also means that the would-be follower will acknowledge His Lordship and submit to His authority. Lastly this implies that Christ was looking for faithful disciples who would be willingly to die for Him. This will show that they will be willing to pay the cost of discipleship.
Let us now look at the three demands of Christ:
1. Self-denial: “Let him deny himself”.
Self-denial is not just the giving up of things that we consider important in life, but the giving up of all rights to oneself. In other words, it is the total surrender of one’s life, ambition and will to the Lordship of Christ. It is saying, “Not my will but Yours be done”. It is the giving up of one’s life totally to Christ without any reservation.
2. Self-sacrifice: “Take up the cross daily”.
The Cross speaks of shame, suffering and death. In the old days, when a person is sentenced to death, he will have to carry his cross to the place of execution. Along the way, he will be abused and shamed by the crowds lining the streets. He would have suffered first by the whipping of the soldiers and then crucified. Imagine hanging by your own weight by the nails driven into your hands, sides and legs. It would take many hours of excruciating pain and agony before dying. Following Jesus could mean mockery, persecution, suffering and death for many in places and among peoples who are antagonistic towards the Church and Christianity. Thousands of the early disciples from AD 64 to AD 300 were martyred for Christ.
3. Submission: “follow Me”.
This is giving total allegiance to Christ because He is Lord and King. It is doing whatever He says and demands without question. It is perfect obedience to His commands.
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