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From Matthew’s gospel we read a very familiar passage,
“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)
O I know I’ve quoted this verse before, but it is one that keeps coming back to my mind, in fact, coming every morning. Note, “Jesus said to His disciples.” You and I are “disciples,” are we not?
James Montgomery Boice has written, “Discipleship means forsaking everything to follow Christ.” Zodhiates has written regarding the word “follow” that is in our text,
“The Greek word ‘follow’ is a synonym to the Greek word ‘obey.’ It is to be distinguished from the occasional and temporary following of Jesus by the crowds and the following to which Jesus calls individuals or people generally, or which was undertaken by individuals. The individual calling to follow Jesus involved abiding fellowship with Him, not only for the sake of learning as a scholar from his teacher, but also for the sake of the salvation known or looked for, which presented itself in this fellowship. The first thing involved in following Jesus is a cleaving to Him in believing trust and obedience, those cleaving to Him also following His leading, acting according to His example.”
It should be noted from our text that denying oneself and taking up one’s cross are in the aorist imperative, commands that are the necessary and expected response to the command “follow Me,” the verb “follow” being in the present tense, in the imperative mood.
The statement: “If anyone wishes to come after Me”
The command: continually “follow Me.”
The associated commands: the very call to “deny” yourself and “take up (your) cross” (the “cross” being understood as an instrument of death) are, as the aorist tense implies, core actions associated with the commitment to continuously “follow” Christ.
“If anyone wishes to come after Me . . . follow Me! And as you continuously follow Me, you must deny yourself, you must die to self.”
I have made it a point every new morning to say to the Lord as I begin my prayers, “I am Your disciple and I desire to follow You, denying myself, dying to myself, and saying to You, not my will Lord, but Yours.”
How about you brethren, are you of this same heart, this same mind? Are you responding daily (see Luke 9:23) to His command, His call to everyone who claims to be His disciple? the self keeps us from the Savior, in its very existence promoting its own will and way, and thus it dangerously finds itself determining its own path to salvation. Anyone hearing Jesus and desiring to come after Him must put self to death and “follow” Him if they ever hope to have true salvation, true forgiveness of sin and reconciliation to God.
The command from God comes to every human being, it comes through the Son, “follow Me.” The true disciple of Christ, he or she desires to do just that.
Have a good day brethren . . . and as you walk make it a point to ask yourself, “So what is my desire today?” Pray the answer is, “To follow Jesus.”
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