23 Apr 2013
Jesus said on several occasions “follow Me.” As we follow this thread through the Gospel of Matthew considering those times Jesus instructed others to follow Him there seems to be a trend of increasing commitment. Jesus first called some fishermen to follow Him with the promise that He would make them fishers of men. He then challenged a lagging disciple who wanted to wait to bury his father to let the dead bury their own dead, and said but you should follow Me.
Later Jesus words in the context of His instructions to the Twelve when He sent them out two by two, were that they must take up their cross and follow Him. A bit later in Jesus was telling His disciples of His impending death. Peter with remarkable lack of spiritual rationale, said “forbid it Lord this shall never happen.” It was in this context immediately after Jesus said to Peter “get behind Me Satan” that Jesus said if we are to come after Him we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.
As these instructions are repeated by Jesus it appears that the sacrifice component comes into an increasingly more intensified center. In our modern day we have taken our highly spiritual eraser and carefully removed from God’s instructions any hint of sacrifice. It is as if we must at all costs protect our hearts from any semblance of sacrifice. We long to follow a fictitious Christ, one carefully crafted by our own intense abhorrence to participate in any hint or scent of sacrifice.
Many have pondered what it means to fully follow Jesus. If all the books in our libraries should be rewritten to address this question, they would be without doubt insufficient to hold the sum of the truth regarding this query. However on a very simple plane, we can see that to follow Jesus is to go where He is going. Where is Jesus going? It seems clear that Jesus compass was positioned unswervingly on the bulls-eye of the cross. He was determined to make disciples and die for whosoever will. Yes, and we are told that He did this for the joy that was set before Him.
In our modern church we have lost track of the truth that our greatest potential for joy, for a deep internal sense of fulfillment is found imbedded exclusively in sacrifice. God loves you and me. He demonstrated His amazing love by providing for us an awesome sacrifice. He calls us to love Him. Can we actually love God without sacrifice? Could it be that we have been duped into seeing sacrifice through the lens of this world?
The further implication is that we cannot make disciples without sacrifice. The foremost of these disciple-making sacrifices is love. Not the fuzzy cotton candy kind of love the world promotes, but a love that has eyes to see and ears to hear enlightened by prayer in the Holy Spirit. Listen to what the Holy Spirit records about Jesus’ love for His disciples:
John 13:1 (ASV)
1 Now before the feast of the passover, Jesus knowing that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto his Father, having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them unto the end. [Emphasis added]
Again in Jesus’ prayer to His Father on the night of His arrest he prayed:
John 17:12 (AMP)
12 While I was with them, I kept and preserved them in Your Name [in the knowledge and worship of You]. Those You have given Me I guarded and protected, and not one of them has perished or is lost except the son of perdition [Judas Iscariot—the one who is now doomed to destruction, destined to be lost], that the Scripture might be fulfilled. [emphasis added]
This is a love that is empowered to search and to see needs and to sacrifice continually for another by the power that raised Jesus from the dead. We are commanded, as we are going, to make disciples! Until we take off the blinders and see sacrifice for what it is in the eyes of God we will be significantly hampered to obey Jesus command to make disciples. We prefer to be involved in making believers. Being used to make believers requires much less sacrifice. We rather like the one and done aspect of this kind of ministry. But Jesus did not call us to make believers He called us to make disciples. Spiritual grandchildren are the factual fruit of authentic spiritual sacrifice and love.
Prayer is sacrifice. We are told that Jesus is at the right hand of God. What is He doing there?
Romans 8:34 (AMP)
34 Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us? [Emphasis added ]
Jesus continues to sacrifice for you and for me!
My prayer for each of us is that we might see and understand sacrifice and love as God intends us to comprehend them. That we might cease from shirking back from love and sacrifice by the power of His Mighty Spirit that lives within us and we might become the instruments of love and discipleship that our Savior has called us to be. That we might truly in Spirit and truth worship and follow Him!
Ephesians 3:16-17 (AMP)
16 May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality].
17 May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love,