Following Jesus

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Before this communication of Jesus to His disciples, Jesus had informed them that He was going to Jerusalem, and after going there, He will be abused by the Jewish leaders, put to death, and raised to life three days later. Functioning as the spokesman for the disciples, Peter rebukes Jesus for claiming such a thing would happen to Him. The disciples are convinced that as the promised Messiah, Jesus will establish His national kingdom, and the disciples will hold positions of authority in His kingdom. Jesus confronts Peter boldly, denouncing Peter’s disparagement of the plan and purpose of the Lord as a form of Satanic opposition. Rejecting God’s plan and purpose because it is at odds with what seems best to man is what Jesus condemns as completely evil.

To avoid selfish and corrupt desires, what is one to do?

Selfish and corrupt desires that are out of line with the Lord’s plan and purpose are put down by a fervent commitment to obey Jesus. Those coming to Jesus as Savior and Lord must outright reject their self-serving intentions (“deny”). Jesus describes their commitment to eliminating the inclinations of self-serving desires as putting the flesh to death (“take up his cross”). Finally, the Lord describes the positive turn in this description of repentance as “follow me.” 

Following Jesus requires His people to know His instructions and to do what He desires. Willful ignorance, half-heartedness, and wavering are not options. The Lord equips His followers with new life, desires, and direction, which are presented in the promises and principles of His word. The life and teaching of Jesus that the grace of God empowers us to know and obey are learned through reading and applying the Scriptures. The Apostle Paul instructs followers of Jesus in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We renew our minds with the teachings of Scripture so that we can know the will of God and obey the will of God.

As Matthew 16:24 says, coming after Jesus is denying and dying to our flesh so thoroughly that knowing and obeying the will and ways of Jesus becomes our living and thriving desire. We are followers of Jesus, so we affirm His absolute authority, submit to His absolute authority, and declare His absolute authority given to us in the Bible. May His will and ways shine brightly in us and through us!