Follow me — the words of Christ from the gospel of Matthew,
- “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'” (Matthew 16:24 – NASB)
If I am a believer than I am a disciple of Christ. It is a given. Some would say it comes later, this discipleship, that it is not in accordance with the message of salvation, that somewhere beyond one’s confession of Christ we decide to “follow” Him as a disciple of His. This, of course, is the crux of the Lordship issue that is debated in the evangelical church today. For me there is no argument, I know that I was faced with a decision when the Holy Spirit convicted me through the Word of God. That decision was either to reject Christ or to turn from my sin of unbelief and receive Him as who He is; Lord and Savior. I read the text above early on as I read through the New Testament and the Spirit made it clear to me by the Scriptures that if I was to be saved I must “come after” Christ, I must die to self and “follow” Him and be His disciple.
Discipleship means, “forsaking everything to follow Christ,” writes James Montgomery Boice in his great book, Christ’s Call To Discipleship. Christ says, “follow Me.” Here the verb is in the present tense, in the imperative mood. That means it is a command, one from God Himself, to do something and to do it continually.
Note Matthew 9:9-13 and consider the explanation of V-13. Boice writes regarding it, “. . . shows that the command to follow Jesus (V-9 “follow Me” again is in the present tense, in the imperative mood) was not understood by Him to be only a mere physical following or even and invitation to learn more about Him and then see if one wanted to be a permanent disciple or not. Jesus understood it (“follow Me”) as turning from sin to salvation.”
Brethren, discipleship is a most important matter. It is a calling from on high and it involves everyone who names Christ as Savior. Many would like to add Jesus to their lifestyle, liking the benefits but not willing to “deny” self and “take up (their) cross” and “follow” Him. Jesus’ call to salvation is a call to be a disciple of His, to “follow” Him! When He gave the great commission in Matthew 28, He said,
- “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . .” (Matthew 28:19 – NASB)
“If anyone wishes to come after Me” Jesus said; if you want to come to salvation, then hear My command . . .
- “deny” yourself – for self is an obstacle to saving faith. Simply put, one needs to believe what Jesus says and in turn deny what they believe.
- “take up (your) cross” – the cross signified death, and so the call to put self to death, for only when self-will is crucified can one obey the command of Jesus . . .
- “and follow Me” – the command! The command from God to repent and to receive Jesus the Christ as Lord and Savior and become His disciple.