Follow Me 3

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me”                                                                                                                                 Matthew 16:24-25                                                                              

We have talked about spectator followers, those who simply followed Jesus around to see what he might do next, and consumer followers, those who followed him for what he could do for them. This is the type of follower that most of Jesus’ disciples seem to have been in the early going. They thought Jesus could make them important, powerful people, or could give them free food, or deliver them from political and military oppression. But when Jesus said if you were going to follow him, you would have to take up a cross, they began to look sideways at each other and drift away.

  A cross? People died on crosses! When they gave you a cross to carry you were on your way to your execution. Follow him to a cross? Why would anyone do that? Well, you would do that, according to Jesus, because that is the way to life. The way to life? Yes, because we live in an upside-down world.  The way that we think leads to life actually leads to death. The way that we think leads up actually leads down. We think protecting yourself at all costs leads to life, but it actually shuts you in to yourself and there is no life in you. It is when you die to your rights and your way and your power that you actually are plugged into that abundant life that begins now and goes on forever.

But is that it? Do we submit to be crucified with Christ just because of the payoff? No, there is something lying underneath that. That is what took place on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The  resurrected Jesus smiled at Peter and asked the key question, “Do you love me?” And Peter knew! Yes!  He had denied with an oath that he even knew Jesus. But that could not change the fact. He did love him. And then Jesus put it to him: “Follow me” (Jn 21:19). It is love, love for our blessed Savior, that says, “Yes, if love took him to the Cross, I want to go there too. If love for his lambs made him lay down his life, then I want to go there too.” So, which is it for you: spectator follower, consumer follower, or crucified follower?

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