Earlier this week I asked myself the same question that I’ve been challenging myself with every now and again for the last twenty three years plus: ‘What does it really mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ?’
The sobering truth is that Jesus doesn’t make it easy: the rich young ruler couldn’t give up his wealth, and departed from the Lord in sadness; most of the religious leaders of the day couldn’t give up their control and exercised anger. The disciples managed to doze off rather than pray while Jesus prepared in the garden of Gethsemane for his sacrificial death, and, of the twelve, only John, the beloved disciple, was near to Jesus at the crucifixion. When Peter was confronted by a servant girl about his allegiance to Jesus, he lacked courage, and denied all knowledge (later regretting it bitterly), and the crowd, who had previously praised the Messiah’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, followed the masses and cried, ‘Crucify,’ when they were asked to choose who to pardon after Jesus had been arrested!
Following Jesus really isn’t for the faint- hearted or for those who are pursuing an easy life. We mustn’t be swayed by the opinions of others or think we can just observe him from the safety of a crowd either! Jesus said, ‘Take up your cross and follow me.’ (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23) It doesn’t necessarily mean that we will be martyred for our faith, but it does challenge us to die to ourselves and deal with all the things that would prevent us from following him wholeheartedly. When we walk that road we are exercising true follow-ship!