Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The cost and benefits of being a true disciple of Jesus Christ

Luke 9:23-24 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?

The Radical Call of Discipleship
Yesterday we began to explore what discipleship is and how it begins - namely with Christ calling you by His grace to trust and follow Him.  Once you by grace through faith trust in Christ, the heart of the radical call to discipleship involves "denial of self" and "daily cross bearing".     In the original Greek and Hebrew a disciple first and foremost was a "learner".  But in the process of "learning", it wasn't just gaining facts and figures from the teacher.  Discipleship's aim is for the eager follower to forsake his desire for comfort and self-interest in order to follow the Master and  become like Him. No doubt, what Jesus is saying here in the above verses is radical - but necessary and expected, if anyone wants to truly follow Him.   

Why self denial is at the heart of discipleship
The disciple was "learning" how to talk like, walk like and live like the Master or "Rabbi" as it is termed in the original language of Jesus' day.  Therefore all Jews understood that if you ever had the privilege to learn under a respected "Rabbi" in Israel, then you had to be ready to place your intrests and selfish desires to the wayside to become like the Master.

What it means to "take up your cross"
Jesus makes an intresting statement concerning the level of committment it will take to be a "disciple".  He says that in order to follow Him, you must "deny yourself" and then "take up your cross". When Jesus made this statement about "cross-bearing", it was referring back to an event the took place before He had been born in Bethlehem.

During the days leading up to and after Jesus’ birth, Jewish expectation of a Messiah to come and break the yoke of Roman oppression was at an all-time high.  Many guys came and went, claiming to be the One who would break the tyranny of Rome away from the shoulders of the Jewish people.  One such wanna-be was named “Judas the Galilean”.  A first century Jewish Historian by the name of Josephus records  how this man had gained many followers.  According to the history of that time, this "wanna-be" convinced 2,000 followers in the regions of Galilee (a Roman province that was North of Jerusalem) that he was the One to lead a rebellion against Rome.

When Rome got wind of this news, they sent soldiers to that area, captured Judas the Galilean and his followers, and placed 2,000 Roman crosses throughout the roadways system of Galilee.  They then crucified everyone of these followers, along with their “wanna-be” Messiah, thus sending a message to everyone that if you follow anyone like this man, this will be your fate.  Thus in Jesus day, when anyone spoke of “taking up their cross”,  everyone knew it was in reference to the violent, bloody end of the failed coup against Rome 

This radical commitment must be a daily reality
No doubt when Jesus made this statement, it instantly sent a message to all of his “wanna-be” followers – namely be ready to not only give up your claims to your own life; be ready, if need be, to give up your life period.  Jesus inserts that little word that adds another exclamation point to an already demanding call – “daily”.  Everyday the disciple of Jesus Christ needs to regard what God has said, regard his own selfish interests to be dead, in order that in Christ He may move ahead.  (Please compare Romans 6:4-11)

Keep your Eye on the prize
Despite what is no doubt a perceived loss, the gains in following Christ achieve a far greater prize – Christ Himself.  Jesus says in Luke 9:24-25 - "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?  The Apostle Paul writes similar words in Philippians 3:7-8 “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” 

If we remind ourselves of the goal of discipleship – to be like the Rabbi in our thoughts, our actions and our life, demanding realities such as “self-denial” and “daily cross-bearing” will  more become delights rather than duties. 

No comments:

Post a Comment