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What does it mean to follow Christ?
In Mark 8:34-38, Jesus answers that question.
But it’s a tough answer. Challenging. Demanding. Unapologetic. Unflinching.
It’s NOT user-friendly. Nor seeker sensitive.
It won’t make you famous. Rich. Or powerful.
In fact, following Christ demands a willingness to make any sacrifice Jesus asks. Even the ultimate sacrifice.
And how you respond to Jesus’ answer will determine your place in the kingdom of God–in the fellowship of believers.
Discipleship: The High Cost
Just moments after Christ rebuked Peter, he summoned the crowd to gather around him and he began to teach.
He said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up your cross and follow me.”
He taught self-denial. Desperation. Hopelessness in self. Hopelessness so deep that a person would hold nothing back.
Even his life.
No wonder Peter rejected Jesus’ statement that the Messiah must suffer and die. He rebuffed the notion because he didn’t want to die. Peter said “no thanks” to that brand of discipleship.
Jesus’ response? He told Peter that anyone who wishes to follow him must embrace the suffering that marked his own life.
And as disciples of Christ, we are called to embrace that same suffering. That same death. That’s the law of the cross. And it prevails.
Discipleship: What Is It?
A disciple is someone who follows a teacher and submits to his his instruction or training. Where ever there is a teacher and student…you have discipleship.
John the Baptist taught. Pharisees taught. I teach my children. Those we teach, train and instruct are our disciples.
And believers who confess Christ as Savior are disciples of Jesus. And because we are his disciples, we are called to embrace the same suffering and death Christ embraced.
The law of the cross prevails.
Discipleship: How Do We Endure?
God’s ultimate good never promises comfort or luxury. It promises hardship. Toil. Torture. Denial. Death.
Death to self. To autonomy. But in return, we are offered a majestic hope.
Christ set his sights on this hope. He set his sight beyond the pain. We’re called to do the same. To set our sights on that hope.
See, discipleship in persecution depends on seeing circumstances from God’s perspective…rather than in terms of human cost.
In the end, the hard truth of following Christ is that the cost is big. That is the law of the cross. But the rewards are infinite: abundant and eternal life that comes only from faithfully following Christ.
My advice to you: Embrace that brand of discipleship. Christ calls:
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
**Part of The Messiah: Eleven Meditations from the Book of Mark series.**