“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9.23
What does it mean to be a disciple? A disciple is someone who follows after Jesus. He or she does what Jesus does through imitation, learning and by instruction. A disciple is someone fully committed to the cause of Christ regardless of the risks or inspite of the rewards. Disciples follow, reflect and walk as Jesus walked.
Jesus said these words to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciples must….” He gave a condition. We can’t become Jesus’ disciples without meeting the demands of the conditions. It’s like if wanted to be a gardner I must have a garden, grow plants, take an interest in horticulture or teach those who do. How could I be a gardner without at least every now and then putting my hands in the soil?
To be a disciples, we must….”deny themselves.” Denying is so hard! Going without food, for example, when fasting, is difficult. Rejecting the need to consume what delights our heart for the intent of prayer, was never said to be easy. In the same way, following Christ by taking up your cross daily is a sacrifice.
I would argue plainly this — those who do the things Jesus did are disciples, and those who do not, are not his disciples. Many in our culture say they are follows of Jesus, they believe in his way, even have copies of Bibles on iPhones or on bedside tables, dusty though they be. But they are not pursuing the Lord. When I courted my wife, I pursued her, called her, wrote her letters, sent her flowers. I took an interest in her because I wanted to make her my wife. In the same way, following Jesus means I pursue him and walk as he walked.
This week I served with Junior High students from Faith Academy Marble Falls at Mission Waco. I was convicted as I saw the full time Mission Waco staff who serve the poor day in and day out. Janet, one of the founders of Mission Waco, lives to serve Christ in the poor neighbors of that city and also in the country of Indi and Haiti. She goes where the poor live and walks among them. And though the Lord has placed me in other areas of ministry, I wonder how much I can learn from those in this ministry.
Jesus said, “Whoever wants to me my disciple….” “Wants” is found in this passage. Do you “want” to follow Christ? Do you desire to be pushed in ways that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable? How can we be followers of Jesus among a culture that is anti-Christian?
Let’s take up his cross daily and follow him. Will you choose to walk with Jesus today?
“O Lord God, you are faithful. I am so grateful for your love and grace. I am your disciple, seeking to follow you. Seeking to know your ways and to sacrifice daily for you. Sometimes I fail and other times I succeed. But my desire to please you does in fact please you. Come now, Holy Spirit, help me know the truth of your word and to tale of your cross and follow you. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen