Lessons Of A Lifetime

OUR OWN CROSS
OR
THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
SUNDAY DEC. 19, 2021

Scripture To Consider:
“Now great multitudes went with Jesus. And He turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it-lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.”’

“Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” 

“Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Luke 14.25-35

Something To Consider:
Was Jesus declaring that we are literally to hate our family members? If the answer is yes, He would be contradicting much of His teaching on loving our neighbors as ourselves. Or was Jesus speaking in as vivid terms as possible to get our attention. Was He proclaiming that our utmost allegiance must be to Him and to His Word? How can we prove we love Him with all of our heart, mind, and soul, if our love for Him is any less than our love for our family?

As Jesus left the supper a great multitude followed Him. The crowd most likely thought Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to set up an earthly empire. Though that was true spiritually speaking, He knew it was to be accomplished by way of the cross. It is also ironic that for the kingdom of God to be established in our own lives it must be accomplished by way of the cross. And if our desire to get down from the cross is greater than our desire to remain on the cross, then we cannot be His disciple!

Paul professed in 2 Corinthians 5.21, “For He [God the Father] made Him [Jesus, God the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Notice that Paul used the words, that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. Jesus, going the way of the cross did not make salvation and forgiveness of our individual sin an automatic done deal issue. For God has given us free will choice!

Therefore, the decision to take up our own cross and to accept and to agree to the God ordained conditional terms of the cost of discipleship, lies squarely upon our shoulders. But, at the same time, Christ’s yoke for each of us is according to Jesus, easy, and His burden for us to carry is also according to Him, light. How goes your spiritually appointed load today?

Something Else To Consider:
Therefore, to press the point of commitment, Jesus’ message was; if field, oxen, wife, husband, mother, father, brother, sister, or child, stand in competition to Christ, it would be best that our attitude be that of hatred toward these instead of our affection for Jesus to be diminished. Nothing or no one should win the spiritual battle for our heart’s affection and allegiance over and beyond that of Jesus of Nazareth.

The high cost of salvation has fully and freely been paid for all who wish to avail themselves of the riches of God’s goodness. But the cost of discipleship according to Jesus, is not to be taken lightly. The cost of discipleship is paid by kneeling at the foot of the cross and freely receiving His gift of salvation through the forgiveness of our sins.

According to Ephesians 1.7, we have been given tremendous eternal riches. For the apostle Paul wrote, “In Him [in Jesus] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” But we must make that eternal decision to experience the taking up of our own cross and saying yes and amen to the true biblical cost of discipleship.

Something More To Consider:
Therefore, is it possible to be a follower of Jesus without being a disciple? Of course, great multitudes followed Jesus until the cross of Calvary clearly came into view. Many of His handpicked leaders in training followed at a distance when the reality of the cross was revealed. But what does it mean for us to consider the cost of discipleship?

The cross represents our dying to self, a death that does not come easy for us mere mortal human beings. Our bearing our own cross means letting go of our ambitions, self-fulfillment, and self-advancement, for the sake of Christ, His kingdom, and the advancement of others toward that eternal kingdom of God that must be first formed in our minds and hearts before we can help to establish it on earth.

The apostle Paul understood the letting go and letting God be our all in all. He wrote in Ephesians 2.4-10 of the great length that God has gone to in revealing His overwhelming love for His creation. He began by stating; “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead [spiritually dead] in trespasses, made us alive [spiritually alive] together with Christ.”

Paul continued in verse 6 by explaining; “And raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come [in eternity] He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you [we together] have been saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

A Few Final Words:
In other words, without Christ’s example of His willingly yielding to the taking up of His cross, we would not be able to follow in His footsteps. Paul ended his thesis in Ephesians chapter 2 by declaring in verse 10; “For we are His workmanship [God’s creation], created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Therefore, sitting in a classroom does not automatically make a person a student of the subject being taught, any more than knowing about Jesus does not make a person His disciple. But according to Jesus, bearing one’s own cross is a sure sign of discipleship. For also according to Jesus, “And whoever does not bear his [or her] cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

As we approach the season of Christmas, are we prepared to truly worship Christ in all His glory, grace, and truth? Are we as the wise men of old, seeking the presence of Jesus Christ the newborn King of kings who willingly died upon an old, rugged tree? Or are we more interested in the presents that are to be positioned under the commercialized tree of no resemblance of the cross of Calvary?

Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, teach us to willingly bear our own cross, while honestly counting the true cost of discipleship in Jesus. Help us to never lose sight of the true reason for this season and our need to follow Him. In Him Always, Amen!

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