Near the end of Jesus’ ministry, He explained to His disciples how the imminent culmination of His earthy mission was going to look like:
From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests, and be killed, and be raised up the third day. Mt. 16:21 NKJV
Christ had to suffer. Moreover, He tells us that anyone who would follow Him would be subject to suffering, and must be willing to do so:
“If anyone wishes to follow Me, [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests] and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living, and if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].” Lk. 9:23 AMP
“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man will also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mk. 8:38 NKJV
“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with the angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Mt. 16:27 NKJV
In other words, obeying God’s will should always come first – regardless of what our personal interests or desires are. The God-walk is a ‘Road Less Traveled,’ because the path can be difficult and it generally stands in opposition to the ways of the world. However, God’s ways are the best ways, regardless of what our flesh is yearning for…
To follow Jesus, is to walk in the kingdom of God. Jesus had something to say about this as well, when He caught two of His apostles arguing over who would be the greater in the kingdom:
“If anyone desires to be first, he shall be the last of all and servant of all.” Mk. 9:35 NKJV
To bring even greater clarity to what Jesus is saying, He places a nearby child in the midst of the disciples and says:
“…unless you repent [that is, change your inner self – your old way of thinking, live changed lives], and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mt. 18:3 AMP
“Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Mt. 18:4 NKJV
Thus, being ‘great’ in the kingdom of heaven requires child-like faith and humbleness…
Jesus continues to reveal the character requirements of those who may follow Him to the apostles while they were traveling through Samaria on their way to Jerusalem. The Samaritans had refused to lodge Jesus and His retinue. This upset John and James, who asked Jesus if they could call down heavenly fire to destroy them. He rebukes them:
“You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” Lk. 9:55, 56. NKJV
Jesus was telling them that their intent was in error, because the spirt of true Christ followers is one that readily offers peace and love, through the free sharing of the gospel – not to direct anger or punishment at those who refuse to receive it.
Shortly after, Jesus is approached by three would-be followers while He kept traveling towards Jerusalem. They said these things:
“Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord I will follow You but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” Lk. 9:57 – 61. NKJV
But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.” Lk. 9:62 AMP
Jesus’ responses enable us to become very clear about the parameters for, and the consequences of, making the decision to follow Him. First, it will be challenging because we must give up the (supposed) security of all worldly things and place our absolute trust in Christ to provide for our needs.
Second, Jesus in not telling us to ignore our familial obligations, but rather to make our obedience to Him our highest priority, i.e. to place our task of spreading the gospel (expanding the kingdom) first.
Third, Jesus uses the farmer and the plow analogy to show that we must face forward and not look back, so that that we do not veer off course. We cannot keep one leg in the world and try to straddle the other in heaven. It’s an ‘all-or-nothing’ choice.
Jesus would not ask us to follow Him if we couldn’t (with His and His Father’s help):
“…the one who endures and bears up [under suffering] to the end will be saved.” Mt. 24:13 AMP
“And I give them eternal life, and they will never, ever [by any means] perish; and no one will ever snatch them out of My hand.” Jn. 10:28 AMP
You can do this…
Goodnight and God bless.