Lots of people start to be Jesus’ disciples.
Lots of people have trouble following through.
There is a point in Jesus’ ministry where huge crowds are following Him wherever He goes. It makes it hard to get any time to Himself, to find any rest, or for dedicated time with the Father.
Most of us can probably relate to everything but the entourage. Anyway…
Jesus warns the crowd that it’s not that easy. Anyone who really wants to follow must deny himself and take up his cross before following. In other words, you have to be willing to give up everything, and this might end badly.
Then Jesus gives a couple examples. Says the guy whose dad was in construction… “None of you, if you’re smart, would start a building without first sitting down to make sure you can finish it.” A big, unfinished tower equals a public embarrassment.
“No king would go out to war without first figuring out if he can win.” A military loss like that isn’t good for a king’s job security.
So, why would do we do it when it comes to following Jesus as disciples? What, no one told you life was gonna be this way (cue Friends theme)? Wait, following Jesus is hard sometimes? Somebody hurt my feelings? Jesus actually expects me to give up comfort for him? Why didn’t anyone warn me?
Oh, wait, Jesus did. He actually pretty clearly says my life might be harder with Him than without Him. Not a great sales pitch, really.
But disciples still follow. Why? What makes an otherwise reasonable person leave everything to follow someone who promises a potential combination of sacrifice, trouble, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, etc.?
Well…for me, Jesus promises a cause worth dying for. And with it, a life worth living. And I don’t know about you, but I’m looking for meaningful things like that.
You can almost see Jesus standing there, surrounded by crowds on every side, looking around with…perception. He’ll have plenty of personal space soon enough, as the teachings get harder and the disciples leave in droves faster than they came. Until finally Jesus is left alone on a cross, the closest company being a thief on the left and right, and some people weeping at a distance.
“Come, follow Me.” (But you might die.)
If you’re going to start down this path, do you intend to finish?
“Be faithful to death, Jesus says, and I’ll give you the crown of life.”