Wednesday, 10 April 2013

To Follow Jesus

Scripture: Matthew 16 v 24 - 27; 1 Corinthians 13 v 1-3.

Jesus said in verse 24, to His disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Let us look at His words more closely. Jesus is saying that if we want to be like Him we must DENY OURSELVES! In these days of heady self-indulgence its almost unthinkable to actually do something so totally unselfish.

What does DENY ourselves mean? It means that we must put the needs of others before our own comfort. It means lending a hand to a less fortunate person; relieving a burden from someone who is struggling; putting aside a pleasure outing to take care of someone else's emergency. Being your brother's keeper.

Everyone has opportunity to either help or turn a blind eye. You may need to give a stranded motorist a lift out of your way and miss an important meeting. I am sure you understand what deny yourself means. Jesus went on to say - Take up your cross. Now He had not yet been crucified but there were thousands of such executions in Roman times. Everyone knew that the cross meant death. So taking up your cross means dying to self. Self is very demanding of its own rights; self is easily offended if others disagree with it; self is sensitive and can be hurt with a word out of turn; self can throw tantrums and manipulate.

Jesus wants the cross of death to crucify our self life. He then went to the Cross Himself and died to show us what He meant.

When we have achieved deny yourself and take up your cross, then you will be able to follow Jesus.
Verse 25 says For whosoever will save his life shall lose it.....  This means we must let go of our own will, not getting our own way at the expense of others. If we spare ourselves and let others take the blame for something we are guilty of - we will come under God's judgment and we will regret our actions. It continues... And whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it. When you yield and let someone be promoted ahead of you without taking legal action in protest for example and acknowledge God's will, then you will find yourself in good favour with the Lord and He will promote you in some even better way.

Verse 26 says What is a man be profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? You can be rich and famous and have great authority and be totally empty inside. You trade your soul to be held in high esteem by other people but when you need your soul to reach Jesus to save you all your riches and fame create an impossible barrier.  You will come to God on your terms. You will never make it. You think that your wealth or worldly fame earns you a place in Heaven. How many fallen stars, full of sin and corruption, have been preached into Heaven? What kind of message does it send? John Lennon hated Jesus Christ with a passion. Why would he want to spend eternity with Him? But because of his cult following no one can imagine him anywhere but in Heaven - on his own terms of course. Being a humanitarian does not buy you a place in Heaven either.

Verse 27 says every man will be rewarded according to his works. When you follow Jesus and do the work God has ordained for you, you will have an eternal reward in Heaven. If you have a lifelong fight against the truth of Jesus and die cursing Him, you will reap a reward you may regret. But we have a free will to make a choice.

Prayer: Heavenly Father we have much to unlearn when we come into Your Kingdom when we are born again. Help us dear Lord to learn our lessons quickly which we should share with others. In Jesus' name. Amen.