Imagine for your job, you told your boss the parameters of your job: when you would work, what your pay rate would be, they will give you whatever you ask, whenever you ask it, and if they don’t, then they truly aren’t a loving boss. How ridiculous does this sound? Extremely ridiculous. Why? Because the boss has all the authority to define the terms of your job, not you.
This sounds ridiculous, but unfortunately this is how many of us treat our relationship with Jesus, the Lord over all of Creation. We tell Jesus we will give Him Sunday morning and Wednesday night, but the rest of the week is ours. We tell Jesus what we want and when we want it, and if we don’t receive it, or we don’t receive it within our timeframe then He is not truly loving.
This is because as fallen sinful human beings, we are prone to want to follow Jesus on our own terms. Our sin nature would rather deny Christ, pick up our comfort, and follow our heart. However, we see in Luke 9:23 how that is not the case. We see that Jesus defines the terms of what it means to follow Him, not us.
In Luke 9:23, Jesus gives us three commands if we are to truly be His followers.
1) Deny Ourselves
We are to deny our desire to be in control of our lives. Before we can say yes to Jesus, we must say no to ourselves. We must no longer associate with our old life of sin. Before we have God’s Kingdom come and His will be done, we must have our kingdom overthrown and submit our will to His.
2) Pick Up Our Cross
We are to have our faith be our own and place our faith in Jesus alone. Jesus says to pick up “his” cross. He didn’t say to pick up your parent’s cross, your friends cross, your pastors cross. He says to pick up your cross. We are to make our faith in Jesus our own.
3) Follow Him
We are to have total obedience and surrender to whatever Jesus commands, or wherever He may call us. Where are we following Him to? To our workplaces, our schools, our neighborhoods, in order that the Gospel may be proclaimed through our lives.
Jesus commands that we are to do this daily! Not just on Christmas/Easter, Sunday/Wednesday, when we feel like it, or when it’s most convenient for us, but every day. The encouraging news is that whatever Jesus commands, He has already done. He denied Himself to do the will of the Father (Jn. 6:38). He picked up His cross to die on Calvary’s Hill for us and reconcile us back to God. He followed God wherever He took Him. Jesus has all the authority to define what it means to be His follower. Jesus also has all the power to give us everything we need in order to obey these commands and follow Him.