What does it mean to “follow Jesus?” Is it just to take the name of Christian or does it go farther than that? Jesus said to His disciples,
Luke 9:23 “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Being a Christian is far more than just saying, “I believe in Jesus.” It is something that is to effect every facet of the Believer’s life. It is to bring him or her to the place where they are willing to give up all of this world’s goods and even suffer death for Him. It was very clear in His teaching as we read the words in the ninth chapter of Luke’s Gospel. He was asking His disciples who people were saying that He was and they told Him, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.” (Luke 9:19) Then He asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter nailed it, “The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:20)
What Jesus said next probably puzzled and perplexed them. They were waiting for their Messiah, the Christ, to deliver them from the political tyranny of Rome and move them as a nation from the bottom of the food chain to the top. Just as Jesus admits that He is that Messiah or “Christ,” He reveals some startling news that his disciples were not aware of.
Luke 9:22 “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
The leader that they are ready to follow to victory tells them that victory comes through death. He tells them that He is about to go and suffer at the hands of the leaders of His own people. He is going to be rejected by them and be put to death, but He will be raised the third day. Then He says to the disciples,
Luke 9:23-25 “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?”
Matthew tells us that when Jesus revealed this that His disciple Peter actually rebuked Him Matthew 16:21-22 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” Jesus told him that he was not thinking about the things of God but about the things of man.
Men do not want to suffer. They want to live at ease. They want to have pleasant lives and cannot fathom a reason for suffering beyond preserving their way of life. Jesus did not suffer and die so that we could be wealthy and have nice houses, comfort and ease. He calls us to come and labor and suffer with Him, even to die with Him, that we and others might hear the Good News of His death and resurrection and and understand its implications. This life is temporary and the life to come is eternal. True “followers” of Jesus are doing His will in the world. They are not just resting on His work and living for themselves. Following Jesus means following Him all the way to the Cross where self dies and He reigns as Lord. It means leaving all to bring the message of reconciliation to a dying world. It must rest on the recognition that this world is temporary and that it means literally nothing in the scope of eternity unless it brings others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. That is why He said to the Disciples, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” Wealth, comfort and ease mean nothing in eternity. If we really believe that Jesus is the Christ then we should be doing what He says. We must follow Him wherever He leads. We must grasp the disparity between this age and the age to come. We must devote ourselves and our stuff to winning the lost to Him in order that their lives would be saved.
Jesus says that if this is not what discipleship looks like to you then you do not know Him. Do you want to know whether you have truly embraced the Cross of Jesus Christ? The answer lies in this question, Have you embraced your own cross?
Audio of the sermon is available by clicking on the link below