Over the last few posts I have written about being a disciple as we focused on Jesus’ challenge to His disciples in Luke 9. After telling His disciples what it meant for Him to be the Messiah, He told them what it meant for them to be His disciples. Jesus has said that if we would come after him (be His disciple), we must deny self, take up our cross daily, and follow Him.
Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23).
FOLLOW ME. That means to walk the way Jesus walked. I remember a few years ago when my son was just about five, we went to Florida for a few days of vacation. One day when we were walking on the beach I looked back and Ricky was intentionally stepping in the footprints I left in the sand. So, I started taking giant steps and going around in circles. He laughed as He tried to copy my crazy movements.
Following Jesus means to walk in His footsteps. Now this doesn’t mean you have to live a perfect life to be a disciple—that’s impossible. But you must make a conscious decision to follow Jesus. It means you choose to obey God in every area.
Sometimes following Jesus involves leaving some things. When Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John they were fishermen. He challenged them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." (Mark 1:17). They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
In I Kings 19 there is a great illustration of discipleship. Elijah, the national prophet, was coming to the end of his ministry. God told him to choose Elisha to be his disciple and his replacement. Elijah found Elisha hard at work on the family farm, plowing with twelve yoke of oxen. Elisha probably came from a wealthy family with a large farm because we see him supervising eleven other men as he plowed with the last pair (for you farmers, it’s like having a tractor that will pull a 12 bottom plow—that’s no small tractor!).
The prophet Elijah walked up to this farmer and threw his prophet’s mantle over him. Elisha ran after Elijah to follow him. But before he agreed to be Elijah’s disciple he first did something very important. He had a barbeque for his family. He slaughtered his oxen and used the wooden yoke and plow as fuel to cook the beef. Do you see what Elisha was doing? When you burn your plow and eat your ox you don’t ever intend to go back to farming. He was cutting ties with his past so he wouldn’t be tempted to go back to that life. It was his way of showing he was totally committed to following his new master. That’s discipleship.
I can’t follow Jesus and blaze my own trail at the same time.
You have probably heard of Florence Nightingale. Although she was raised in great wealth and privilege in England, at age 17 she experienced the call of God to help suffering people. She became known as the founder of modern nursing. While serving during the bloody Crimean War, she treated the wounded even after she contracted a deadly illness herself. She was the first female to be awarded the British Order of Merit. What made her life so exceptional?
She was a serious disciple of Jesus Christ. She wrote in her diary, “I am 30 years of age, the age at which Christ began His mission. Now no more childish things, no more vain things.” Late in her life she was asked to explain how she had accomplished so much, she said, “I can give only one explanation and that is this: I have kept nothing back from God.”
Are you holding back anything from God?