The Bible is full of a depth of riches wherein total knowledge is impossible. Complete wisdom can never be obtained. Every time you open the pages of the Bible, something new can be learned or better understood. This is a great evidence for the all-sufficiency of the Bible because it has unsearchable riches. This becomes more evident as one reads and studies the scripture. Great truths can be found throughout the Bible that will bring us to salvation and the kind of people we need to be. One of these truths is spoken by our Lord Jesus when He stated in Matthew 16:24-25, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whosoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
Daily we are faced with the decision as to who we will follow in life. Do we follow Jesus, who is the giver of eternal life, or do we follow someone or something else in which it is impossible to make heaven our eternal home. Jesus does not command that one must follow after Him but rather the decision is left to each individual. Jesus is looking for those who desire to follow Him. He would like all to follow Him. Satan would like all to follow him. Each individual then becomes the tie breaker. Free will is given to all to make the choice. This choice goes beyond a one-time decision to accept Jesus as our Savior and put Him on in baptism but rather we are confronted with the choice every day of our life. When we are at home, at work, at school, at the store, we must decide if we will follow the teachings of Jesus. Some decisions are easier than others, however Jesus demands our best if we choose to serve Him.
Following Him means that we will deny ourselves many pleasures of the world. Many pleasures of the world are not Christ-like and lead to a path of destruction. Moses is an example as he chose to forsake Egypt and be with the people of God. “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.” (Hebrews 11:25). Moses was undoubtedly to be great in land of Egypt. Yet he walked by faith (Hebrews 11:27) to serve God. The denial of pleasures comes in all different forms for all people. Each one of us needs to be able to recognize what will hurt our Christian life. I know the things that I must deny in my life to follow Jesus. For me not to deny certain things would lead to a life without Christ. What I may struggle with in my life is probably not what you struggle with. However, we all have struggles that can hinder our Christian race. Choosing to follow Jesus and deny ourselves is a decision that we must all make.
Denying ourselves means that we will have to take up and bear our cross. The cross for the Christian is any kind of hardship he may have to endure including death. Jesus had His cross to bear. He knew of the great things He would suffer going into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11). As Jesus rode into town they declared Him to be Jesus. Only a short time later they cried, “Crucify Him”. Jesus carried His cross by doing the will of the Father in Heaven and literally carried the cross that He would die on. The Christian must be willing to endure hardship when following Christ. If our decision is to follow then there is no other way but to endure hardship. Remember though that, Jesus has said that He will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Crosses come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are small. Others are Large. Some are painful and awkward to carry. Some come with wheels. Whatever our cross may be, it is best to just lift it up and bear it.
Decide to follow Jesus. Deny yourselves. Pick up your cross. It is the life with hope and promise. There is no greater joy than knowing that following Jesus comes with such great reward. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except by me.” (John 14:6) Jesus is the only way. Many of the pleasures of the world may be missed by following Him. However, many of these same pleasures lead to destruction in this life and most definitely in the life to come. Will you follow Him?
Scott is the minister at the Elm Grove Church of Christ. Meeting times are Sunday at 9:30 am for bible class and 10:30 am and 6:30 pm for worship. Mid-week Bible study is on Wednesday at 6:30 pm. All are invited.