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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

FOLLOW HIM

“Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple”
(Luke 14:27).

There is a huge difference between being an admirer of Jesus Christ and being His disciple. An admirer wants to experience the glory without making a commitment. He desires the fruit in his life without abiding in the Master. But a disciple is a pupil who has counted the cost and placed himself completely under the guidance of the Master—whose love for Him is greater than for anyone or anything else, and who resolves to give and also give up whatever is necessary.

Jesus’ words in Luke are not addressed to His disciples. Each disciple has already counted the cost, and made a decision to surrender. His question is directed to those who offer quickly to serve, and then fade away like a shooting star. It is to this marginal person Jesus says, “If you can’t do what it takes, you can’t be my disciple.”

To witness the enthusiasm of a new believer is exciting, but often such enthusiasm does not weigh the cost involved. “I will follow you anywhere,” someone quickly offers Jesus (Luke 9:57). This man is a new believer, and is fired up to go. He opens his mouth to speak without thinking of what his offer entails. In the very next verse Jesus carefully handles the man’s zeal without offending him by telling him that his future is uncertain. They are wanderers, and there is nowhere to rest at night. Jesus knows that this man has a shallow faith that will not stand up under pressure.

Jesus searches the group and His eyes rest on another man. “Follow me,” he says (Luke 9:59). The man asks Jesus to first let him first bury his father. Jesus uses what this man says to teach him the spiritual significance of what following Him means. He tells this man there is no hope for salvation for someone who is already dead, and that his obligations are nothing compared to the call upon his life (Luke 9:60). Time is of the essence, and he must be about the Father’s work. Jesus has looked upon this man’s heart and has seen great potential. He knows that this man can be used to bring life to those who are spiritually deadif he will say yes.

A third man quickly offers to go with Jesus, but asks the Lord to first let him go and tell his family farewell. “Any person who starts doing something and then keeps looking back is not fit for the kingdom of God,” Jesus warns (Luke 9:62). God delivered Lot’s family before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and warned them not to look back. Longing for what she had left behind, Lot’s wife glanced back for one moment, and was turned into stone. When you follow Jesus the old is destroyed in your life. Looking back will only turn Jesus' call in your life into stone. God cannot use people who allow their old lifestyle to keep pulling them back. But He does use people with a commitment and a vision like Abraham. Abraham stepped out in faith, followed God on a journey of a lifetime, and never looked back at Ur. He never built a permanent house again, but lived in tents, and moved when God told him.

The third man in Luke, just as the first one, is not fit for the journey. I find it interesting that the second man, unlike the first and third, did not offer to follow Jesus. He was asked. This man had not spoken a desire to follow, but Jesus instinctively knew that if he would make the sacrifice and say yes, his life would make a difference in the kingdom of God. Jesus asks us, just as he did the second man, to leave self behind, take up His cross, and follow Him. These requirements don’t attract a large number of followers, but for those who follow and stay the course, the result of such a decision is guaranteed. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). Are you willing, just like Abraham to let everything go, and step out in faith to follow Jesus wherever He calls and to do whatever He calls you to do? I have a friend who left her life behind, and is following Jesus on a journey of a lifetime in Haiti. Whatever He asks, say yes.

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