Following Jesus

Published on Aug 31st, 2013 by Pastor Greg | 2
Following Jesus
And He said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 (ESV)

Who do you follow? I don’t know if you are on Twitter or not, but I have been part of this for about a
year. I still don’t completely understand Twitter, but what I do know is you can “follow” someone on
their twitter feed and you can be followed by others.  “Following” means you will see the activity of
a person’s account…knowing what they are doing and thinking.

I don’t think this is what Jesus was talking about in the verse above. He wasn’t asking His disciples to listen to what He was teaching. They might find His teaching interesting and intriguing, but I think
Jesus wanted more than just some people who followed what He said. His teaching and message
were always meant to lead to transformation. And if we are truly going to follow Jesus, we need to
consider these words from Luke’s gospel.

To follow means to Come After Jesus 

Jesus is asking His disciples to physically come andfollow Jesus. The first disciples left their work,
friends and family and began to study under Jesus. They walked where He walked, ate when He ate,
slept when He slept…they were with Him. Now I realize that for us today this would be difficult. We
are in a world where we are tied to so many positions and things and responsibilities. This would
require a great sacrifice to leave everything and follow Jesus. Not that it would be impossible for
this to happen, but it would be rare in most cases today.

So how do you “come after Jesus”? I believe it begins in our hearts and gets worked out through
our thoughts and actions each day. You choose to put Jesus first in all you do…your work, your play,
your family, your relationships. As the Apostle Paul stated, “…put on the new self, which is being
renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3: 10, NIV). You might call this
“clothing yourself in Christ.” When you do this, you allow Christ to take the lead in what we do and
say and think. Your life is pursuing Christ and doing what He wants of your life, which leads us to
Jesus’ next condition.

To follow means to Deny Self

Jesus calls us to deny self…to put Him and others before your own desires and wants and needs. I
have said many times that this is contrary to thethinking of the world in which we live. We are
mainly conditioned to think about ourselves and inso doing, we develop a form of narcissism. We begin
to only look at out ourselves and only ourselves.

Jesus demonstrated denying self in many waysthroughout scripture. He reached out to the down
and out, He sacrificed sleep and even at times the pleasures of a meal in order to teach or help others.

He gave of His time to bring others into an awareness of the kingdom of God.
This requires you take the blinders off of your eyes and begin to look around at other people. It make
mean you have to think less about your destination of this journey in life and soak in your surrounds,
looking for the needs of others and not just yourself. All in all, Jesus is calling us to a life of humility and
service, so other will know Him in this life.

To follow means to Take Up Your Cross

Lastly, in the verse above, Jesus tells that following requires you to “take up your cross”. Now we don’t
have to carry a cross around, but we are called to make a sacrifice when following Jesus. When I hear
the phrase “take up your cross”, it brings to mind the greatest sacrifice I have ever known…the life of
Jesus Christ for my sins. When Jesus came to the earth, He came with a purpose as noted in the gospel
of Mark… “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a
ransom for many” (Mark 10: 45, NIV).

Jesus gave His life for you and me and the only right and reasonable response for us is to follow
him! And this might require a sacrifice of time, money, relationships, material possessions, mental
and emotional energy, sleep, dreams, promotions or leisure time. Any and all of the things would be well
worth losing for the greater good of the kingdom of God. Jesus’ sacrifice made the difference for your
eternity and your sacrifice might make the difference for someone you know. Believe me, it will be
worth it!

So, when you think about following Jesus…don’t just look at what has done. Don’t just acquire
knowledge, but open up your life and heart and come after Jesus, in self denial and with a heart of
sacrifice so others will know of Him!

Following Jesus with you!

Pastor Greg

2 Comments on “Following Jesus”

  1. Dave says:

    Last 3 blogs combo retort – I think a lot of Christians think to deny self means that I have to “man up” with self discipline to be like Christ/follow Christ.

    That’s a control thing that doesn’t get you closer to Christ. Getting closer to Christ is admitting to Christ, ” I can’t manage my life. I can’t do this myself. I am not strong enough. Take control of my life so I can be transformed by you and follow you.” That takes a lot of listening (meditation).

    • Pastor Greg says:

      Dave,
      I agree with you wholeheartedly. Our salvation and our holiness are only becuase of Jesus Christ. We have nothing sufficient in ourselves to manage our lives or our salvation. However, I do think there comes a point when we much surrender our lives and wills to God. Thanks for your comment!

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