September 2022 | Jesus, the Door

TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW JESUS DAILY
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TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW JESUS DAILY

Pr. Pappi Mathai

‘If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, 
brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
“And whoever does not hear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count 
the cost, whether he has enough to finish it…
“lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,
“saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 
“Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit 
down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him 
who comes against him with twenty thousand ? 
“Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends 
a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 
“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has  cannot be My disciple.
(Luke 14:26-33)

In the New Testament those who believed in Jesus Christ were seldom called ‘Believers’. They were called ‘Disciples’ or ‘Followers’. A disciple is one who not only believes; but he is also an admirer, follower, practitioner; propagator and one who would uphold the honour and name of the Master at any cost. The passage mentioned above talks about discipleship and the ‘cost’ of discipleship. Salvation is a free gift from God. Anyone may accept the gift and enjoy it. The call of Jesus is not merely for a person to be saved from sin and wait to go to heaven. His call is to follow Him into discipleship.


Jesus teaches that whoever desires to follow Him must first sit down and consider and decide whether he or she is prepared to pay the cost. His followers are called Disciples. The Lord wants His followers (Believers) to be disciplined disciples of CHRIST. The cost of real discipleship is the willingness to give up or put aside anything else in Life: Relationships, possessions, positions, plans, opportunities etc. It means loving Christ far above anything else. In verse 26, the word ‘Hate’ means love less. The cost demanded by the Lord is: that our loyalty to and love for Him be greater than every other affection and attachment in Life including our own families.
In verses 26-27, Jesus gave the two major reasons people have for not committing themselves to Him - ‘Love of family’ and ‘love of self’. It is natural for anyone to love his family and love himself. The word ‘hate’ here does not mean we are to hold malice or bitterness or anger towards our families. The idea here is one of priority more than feeling. Christ must come first in the life of His disciples. No one with divided loyalties and half-hearted effort can successfully be His disciple. James 1:8 says ‘A doubled-hearted man is unstable in all His ways’.


TAKE UP YOUR CROSS
Verse 27 talks about the supreme cost of discipleship. Ever since Jesus died on the cross, his cruel instrument of death has become a symbol of a Christian’s faith. The commandment in this verse however came before His crucifixion. One cannot read or hear those words without an awareness that in order to follow Jesus one must be ready to surrender all selfish and self-seeking interests and be willing to accept any and all sacrifices that might come along the way.


A TOTAL COMMITMENT TO JESUS
Accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour requires believing the truth of His message. It also requires the commitment to follow Him, no matter the cost. While the cross seems to have a noble and popular meaning today, it was a brutal means of execution during Jesus’ time. It not only meant shame and humiliation but a man who was thus hung on a tree also was considered to be cursed. The sacrifice made on the cross opened up an opportunity for an eternal relationship with GOD. We must be willing to identify ourselves with Christ and His suffering. The choice between living for ourselves(i.e. Deny Christ) and living for Christ(i.e. Deny ourselves) must be made daily. That continual choice will determine our eternal destiny. No other choice.


UNDERSTAND MARK 8:34 AND LUKE 14:27 IN A SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVE
While we want GOD to help us obey this command, GOD has some other plans for us. It is not to help us but to kill us if we are willing to surrender all to Him. Once we are dead, he replaces us with Himself and begins to live His Divine Life through our humanity. Let’s look at some of Pauline statements to drive this point.
Galatians 2:20: ‘I have been crucified with Christ.’ The cross is an instrument of death. Thus ‘carry your cross daily and follow Him’ does not mean suffering persecution, difficulties etc. It means our personal relationship with Christ should be described in terms of a deep, personal attachment to and reliance on the Lord. It is death (not physical) to all selfishness, self-interests and self-ambitions.
“I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.....’ Paul is stressing here that when Christ died on the cross he was crucified with Him. When Christ rose from the dead, he rose with Him. Hence it was not His life he lived but that of Christ’s who lived in Him, a truth he restated in Romans 6:1-11. So the life he lived since he met the risen Christ on the Damascus road, he lived by faith through the spirit’s work, a faith centred in Christ, who gave Himself for Paul and for all mankind. In His comments on Gal 2:20 the great expositor C.I. Sclfield presented a basic truth. CHRISTIANITY is the outliving of an indwelling Christ. Once a believer captures this truth, he realizes that the life he now lives is not all about him, it is all about Christ. ‘I must decrease, He must increase.’


COUNTING AND CONSIDERING THE COST: Vs. 28-33
Those verses warns us of jumping into following Christ without understanding the costs involved. Those are two parables through which Jesus invites anyone who want to follow him to carefully evaluate the seriousness of the implication. The first parable has to do with planning for a Building: The cost of construction. The second parable has to do with going for war against an invading king with his army: consulting the cost of a war. The lesson here is anyone desiring to follow Jesus should consider carefully the requirements and consequences of doing so. He needs to be aware of the resources available to him and be ready to use them (Ephesians 6:10-18).Unless the person is willing to ‘count the cost’ and commit everything to Christ, he is apt to fail in the endeavour.
Verse 33: ‘In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he cannot be my disciple.’
For the third time Jesus emphasized that the commitment He requires is not easy. We must ‘hate’ our loved ones and ourselves to the degree that we do not let them hinder us from following Jesus Christ. We must carry our own cross. We must forsake (renounce and cease to depend on) what we have. Such requirements will do away with our half-hearted service to Christ and surrender ourselves to Him so that we become spiritually and mentally free from worldly-mindedness, coveteousness, and selfishness that we might serve Him without reservation.
Are you Ready?
Are you willing to be His disciple?


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