What does it mean today when a person calls themself a follower of Jesus? Let’s first examine what Jesus meant when he said “follow me”. Many desired to follow Jesus when he walked the earth 2000 years ago but there were certain criteria they chose not to meet that was asked of them.
They came up with a variety of excuses as to why they couldn’t follow him but it was always their own choices that caused them not to follow Jesus. If excuses only excused them from God’s calling and destiny back then, why would it be any different for those of us today?
Why does He want us to follow Him anyway and if we do, where is He planning on taking us?
In Luke 9:23 Jesus said, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. The Greek word for follow is akoloutheo meaning to accompany specifically as a disciple. The Greek word for deny is aparneomai meaning to utterly deny or disown.
If we apply these definitions to this verse, a potential disciple desiring to come after and follow Jesus must disown himself. Disowning oneself releases ownership from one and yields ownership to another. The cost of discipleship requires us to release the ownership from ourselves and yield ownership to Him.
The requirement to become a true disciple and follow Jesus goes beyond the decision to deny ourselves. We are also required to take up our cross daily in order to follow him. Why would he require us to take up our own cross if he’s already paid the ultimate price for our sins by carrying and dying on his cross?
Is it possible that by carrying our own cross daily, we would have a constant reminder that the decision we are making to follow him is unto death just as the decision a man or woman makes when making a marriage vow saying to each other, “til death do us part”? A marriage commitment between a man and a woman is a blood covenant and is a serious vow stating that only death itself will break the oath and part the covenant between each other.
As difficult as this decision is to make, people still get married every day even when the option remains to change their mind and break their oath. If we would make a lifelong covenant with a person who might change their mind and break covenant, why would we even hesitate to enter a covenant with God who will never change his mind and break covenant with us.
God said he would neither leave us nor forsake us and He is not a man that he should lie. He’s already said “I do”. He’s already laid down his life for us and committed His all to us and is simply asking us to commit all we have and all we are to Him, no differently than anyone would expect from a marriage vow and commitment.
How could anyone turn down an offer so great? In Mark 10:29, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time… and in the world to come eternal life.
Consider who is getting the better end of the deal? We are giving up all we are and all we have for all He is and all He has. What do we have anyway? Will we not give up all we have at some point in time? Has anyone ever seen a U-Haul following a hearse?
Take away all we own and what’s left? The real question isn’t what we have but what we are? Our biggest problem is that we define what we are by what we have. We define what we are by the job we have, the clothes we wear, the car we drive, or the house we live in, but take away all we own, or actually steward, and what’s left?
Many of those who lose what they own or even just their job become suicidal. The truth is when all the veneer is gone and the façade is removed, there isn’t much left, only emptiness looking back in the mirror.
The most difficult decision any person will ever make is to give away their most priceless possession, their life and their free will. Regarding marriage, many today don’t want to get married for fear of losing their freedom or for fear of not being able to “do what they want”.
The reality is, many of those who “do what they want” know what they want to do wouldn’t be conducive for a successful marriage and would rather not submit themselves to the accountability of a spouse. On the other hand, for those who have found and married the “love of their life”, they haven’t lost anything, only gained the one they love.
No man is truly free anyway. According to Romans 6:16, we are all the slave to whom we obey, whether to sin unto death or obedience unto righteousness. Our freedom to choose is our greatest gift given to man but also carries the greatest accountability.
If God could command obedience from the demons and even the elements of nature, could He not command obedience from us all? He could but chose not to. Rather than force obedience on us, He seeks those who will follow him out of an obedient heart.
The evidence of his love for us is overwhelming. His love is even demonstrated in the creation of each and every one of us, as each of us was conceived from the very act of love itself.
Still his love for us is demonstrated that, even with all he owns, He has no prenuptial agreement to restrict access to His assets but rather quite the opposite. Luke 12:32, Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
When His love was tested in the Garden of Gethsemane, it didn’t fail but responded, “Yes I do, ‘til death do us part”.
Now He is asking us to make the same wedding vow today, “Til death do us part”. Do we truly love Him? Do we trust Him? Will we be the faithful bride he desires and follow Him to the wedding chapel?
When He said “Follow me”, this is where he wants us to follow Him. Our entire future and destiny is riding on our response.
What will it be? “I will” or “I won’t”.