He called the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “If any wish to come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
No matter what, we follow Jesus, and we follow all the way. This is not a boast, but necessary, and actually the intent and enabling that God gives followers of Jesus. But I’m supposing that for many reasons most all of us fall short of this. I have most of my life, now a good number of decades as a Christian. This simply isn’t on our radar. It’s more often just the idea that we’re forgiven of our sins with the promise of eternal life while falling short on everything, something to that effect.
But there’s so much more. And we have only one chance, one life to do it. We need to purpose to go nothing less than all the way. But to do that, we’ll have to work through many things. There’s not a one of us that doesn’t carry with ourselves significant weaknesses. I’m not necessarily referring to anything serious, but just the ordinary struggles that we face as humans. What they are will depend on our temperament and experiences and will vary in their impact from person to person. But in general, common struggles, be they what they may: anxiety, fear of whatever, etc., etc., etc.
We’re told by Jesus here that to come after him we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow. Some might think that applied only in that day, but a careful reading of the New Testament will clearly indicate otherwise. And God gives us everything we need to do just that. All in God’s grace for sure, but nothing less than that.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re not completely dependent on God and in the correct sense interdependent on others. That’s all part of the package. But we also must purpose in our hearts that we will give our all to this, and not compromise from it for a moment. It goes without saying that we will fail along the way. Immediate confession of that sin, and then continuing on will be in order.
This is a word to myself as I look forward to seeking to appreciate Holy Week. I want to soak in every part. But to do so, I will have to let nothing else get in the way. Except to love all, to do good, to fulfill every responsibility, yes to follow our Lord all the way. Along with others. In and through Jesus.