Key Text: Matthew 16:21-28
Jesus never promised that the walk of a disciple would be easy. It is true that He wants to bless every believer but His primary purpose is to build His church.
To be a disciple of Christ Jesus is to be a part of His divine purpose. To be a disciple is to know that God has a plan and purpose for your life – you are not just drifting aimlessly.
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
The Gk for the word ‘deny’ means to ‘totally reject’. This doesn’t mean that we don’t accept who we are, instead it means to totally reject our self-will, the desire to do our own thing, to follow our own goals and ambitions in order to follow Christ.
1.Surrender to Christ
Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Our greatest problem is that we have turned to our own way, the solution is to totally turn from doing things our own way.
There is a difference between sin and iniquity. Sin is a Roman archery term for missing the bullseye or target. To sin is to miss or fall short of God’s standards.
Iniquity is to wilfully carry on sinning and so forming a bad habit.
To deny oneself means that we surrender our will, our affections, our body and our soul. We no longer seek our own short-lived happiness but we seek first the kingdom of God.
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Jesus here shows the importance of simple obedience. The aim of our redemption is to bring us into relationship with God the Father and to restore us to a place of obedience.
It is obedience more than our profession that makes us disciples.
Jesus spoke about people who say they will do something and don’t and those who say that they won’t but do.
We owe our salvation to the obedience of Jesus. He was obedient even to death. Every disciple must be willing to pay the price of obedience.
Luke 10:27 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.”
The love that we have for self must be so far less than the love we have for Jesus that in comparison it might seem like hate.
Jesus must be our first love. The Disciple Must bear Their Cross
When people were condemned to die on the cross, part of the sentence was that they would have to publicly carry their own instrument of death.
The expression to carry our own cross, must therefore mean to endure whatever comes our way because we have made a decision to follow Christ Jesus. It does not mean that we make trouble for ourselves, it means that we fulfil our responsibilities to Christ and to joyfully suffer any consequence of us following Him.
Hebrews 12:2 …who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
The road to crucifixion was a one-way journey and as such there was no return. Taking up one’s cross therefore, signifies the upmost in self-denial.
Jesus however, goes a step further by adding ‘daily’ For the disciple of Jesus, it is not simply a one-off thing, that can be ticked off to get out of the way it is a daily decision.
For Jesus the cross was the difficult part of doing what was necessary to fulfil the will of his Father.
When Jesus says take up he means to do it immediately. The idea of getting right with God tomorrow just does not work. Jesus wants us to do it now.
Counting The Cost
Jesus clearly taught his disciples about counting the cost of becoming a disciple.
Before we make decisions, we normally consider the facts. We calmly and deliberately contemplate what the decisions will involve and mean.
We then make a decision, based on whether we are prepared to reap the consequences in other words pay the cost.
In Matthew 21:28-32 Jesus tells a parable of a man who had two sons. He tells the 1st to go and work in the vineyard and he refuses to go but afterwards changes his mind and goes. The second says he will go but does not obey.
When Jesus calls us as His disciples, He tells us to go and work in his vineyard. To quickly say that we will go and then turn back is hypocrisy and brings shame.
We therefore, need to count the cost first. We need to ask ourselves if we really believe the gospel, if we really know the Lord.
If we are convinced we should follow wholeheartedly. There are many in church today who say yes Lord but do not obey in practice.
The apostle Paul in Philippians 3:7-8 sums up his own attitude. It is all worth it. in losing all we find all, in dying we live. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Must Follow Jesus
The Greek word used in the Bible for following Jesus literally means ‘to go in the same way.’
Denying self, taking up the cross and counting the cost are simply preparations of the heart, attitude and mind equipping us to follow Jesus.
Following is taking His yoke upon us, so that we might learn from Him.
The following is the beginning of discipleship. It is as we follow that we become a disciple.
In taking up our new calling we have to lay down the old.
In following Jesus James and John had to first lay down their nets. The nets represented their old lifestyle and calling as fishermen.
Jesus waits patiently through our , meditations reflections and considerations for our commitment to follow Him.