About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Jesus said this
concerning the crowds that followed Him.
"You are looking for me, not because of the signs I performed
but because you ate the loaves and you were filled."
In other words, the crowds followed Jesus for what they could get
from Him, not for what they could give to Him.
Concerning His disciples, however, Jesus said this.
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take
up their cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23).
Imagine what might
have flashed through the Apostle Peter's mind after Jesus told him to
carry his cross. For Peter,
thoughts of a cross would have conjured up horrifying images of pathetic,
blood-stained, dying bodies. The
word "cross" would certainly not have stirred up warm feelings
towards God, at least not at that point in his life.
Jesus' words must have boggled Peter's mind.
Why in Heaven's name would Jesus command him
to do something that was equated with such a dreadful form of death?
It is commonly
understood that Jesus was talking figuratively in this instance. He
was telling men like Peter that they were to deny their selfish sinfulness
that is resident within us all. Only
then could he, and we, effectively serve Him.
Whether it is money, materialism, careers, or any kind of
self-centeredness, "you cannot serve two masters" (Matthew
6:24). Either you serve self
like the crowds or you serve Jesus like a disciple.
I realize that some
people over the centuries have misappropriated Jesus in reference to
denying self. Among many other
things, some mutilated their bodies in an attempt to crucify the flesh, as
they thought was meant in Galatians 5:24.
"Those who belong to Jesus Christ have crucified the flesh
with its passions and desires". Some
men castrated themselves as an attempt to put to death sexual desire,
something they considered sinful. Jesus
suggested no such thing. He
was talking about denying the inner compulsion to put self ahead of Him
and His will.
We live in a
self-gratifying "I want it all and I want it all right now"
culture which in my opinion has penetrated our western world Christian
culture more than we realize. The
result of this self-seeking mindset is disabling us from being the
effective disciples of Jesus we were called to be.
command to carry our crosses does not get a lot of press in church these
days, but that does not nullify what Jesus commanded.
Whatever the cross means to you, it should mean that you are to lay
aside your self-seeking ways to whole-heartedly serve the Lord Jesus
Christ as His disciple. It is
not rocket science. If you lay
your life down for another person, that other person will be impacted by
the love of God you extend to him, and isn't that what you want out of
life? Isn't that what carrying
your cross means? Isn't that
what being a disciple of Jesus is all about?