The Joy of Following Jesus

Matthew 16:24-27 ESV

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.’” (cf. Luke 9:23-26)

Following Jesus with our lives is a full commitment. It is a choice to fully surrender to Jesus Christ and to follow him wherever he leads us in doing whatever he commands and calls us to do. We are never to see our faith in Jesus Christ as merely forgiveness of sins so that we can go to heaven when we die. But we are to view our faith in Jesus as full surrender of our lives to God to do his will and to go wherever he sends us. Our lives are no longer our own to be lived however we want, but they are now to be lived for God.

So this means that we live and breathe Jesus and his will. The lives we live on this earth are not separate from him and his will and purpose for our lives. Now when we rise in the morning, he is there, and as we go throughout our day, he is there with us guiding and directing us in what to do and in what to say. And as we go to bed at night, he is there with us speaking to our hearts, comforting and/or correcting, letting us know his will for us and giving us the strength and wisdom we need to do his will.

For when we believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, no longer as slaves to sin, but now as slaves to God and to his righteousness. And we also, by faith in Jesus Christ, enter into a covenant of marriage with Christ. Now he is our husband and we are his bride, but like in the Jewish marriage. And now he is preparing a place for us, and one day he will return and he will take his faithful ones to be with him for eternity.

But this isn’t just about believing in Jesus so that we can go to be with him one day. But we are to live our lives on this earth as though we are married to him, as though he is our husband and Lord. And so we are to have no other lovers, whatever or whoever those “other lovers” may be. So we are not to go after other gods and after the sinful pleasures of the flesh, and we are not to be followers of man. But we should look to Jesus to direct our paths and to guide us in his ways, and to provide for us all we need to be his faithful servants in doing his will for our lives.

And we should never look at this relationship as drudgery, or as a weight or as a burden. We should love our Lord so much that we want to follow his will, and we want to do what pleases him, like a bride should do for her husband. We should love to serve our Lord and to do his will because we love him, and because we are so grateful for all that he has done for us. And we should never try to find “wiggle room” out of this relationship so that we don’t have to obey his will. Yet, this is what many people do, sadly so.

So, when Jesus says that if anyone would come after him that he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow him (daily, according to Luke’s passage), this isn’t just a command. But if we love our Lord, this should be our heart’s desire to deny self and to die daily to sin and to follow our Lord in obedience to his commands. And we should want to give up our old lives of living in sin and for self in order to follow our Lord in obedience. For in so doing we will find our lives in him, that to live for him is life.

But there is a warning in all of this, too, that if we do not deny self, and if we do not die to sin daily, and if we do not follow our Lord in obedience, as a matter of life practice, that we will be forfeiting our own souls and that we will not inherit eternal life with God. For if we are ashamed of Jesus and his Word in this life, when he returns he will be ashamed of us, i.e. he will deny us (see the Luke passage). For we are all going to be judged by our works, and our Lord is going to repay each person according to what he has done.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Wherever He Leads I’ll Go

By B.B. McKinney

“Take up thy cross and follow Me,”
I heard my Master say
“I gave My life to ransom thee
Surrender your all today.”

He drew me closer to His side
I sought His will to know
And in that will I now abide
Wherever He leads I’ll go

My heart, my life, my all I bring
To Christ who loves me so
He is my Master, Lord, and King
Wherever He leads I’ll go

Wherever He leads I’ll go
Wherever He leads I’ll go
I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so
Wherever He leads I’ll go
Caution: this link may contain ads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s