Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciples must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”; (Matt. 16:24).
Wherever Jesus went, He drew great crowds. Although the multitude often followed Him as the Messiah, their view of who the Messiah was and what He came to do was distorted. They believed that He would usher in the “New Kingdom”, which would free them from the oppressive rule of the Roman occupiers. Even Jesus’ inner circle of disciples thought the Kingdom was coming soon.
As Jesus began to teach them the cost of being a disciple, He shared with them intimate details of how He was going to die at the hands of the Jewish leaders and Gentile overlords. At that moment His popularity sank; (Luke 9:22). It’s recorded that many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him; (John 6:66).
The testing of their faith revealed their faith level and exposed what they truly believed. For this reason many of them departed. They didn’t realize that they were acting out of their five senses, which relates to the flesh. The flesh reacts to what it sees, hears, smells, tastes, and touches, which all takes place in the natural or earthly realm. Jesus’ teaching was of the spirit realm, which requires faith. For we walk by faith and not by sight; (2nd Cor. 5:7).
Following Jesus is easy when things are going our way and our needs are met. But, the level of true commitment is revealed during trials. It’s in the hard places, those dry seasons, that reveals our strengths and weaknesses. Discipleship demands sacrifice, and Jesus never hid that fact or the cost. Commitment to Christ means taking up “your cross daily”, giving up your carnal ways of thinking, and following His ways. Both trust and obedience is of the utmost importance when you make the choice to follow Jesus.
“Will you continue to follow Jesus when things appear to be falling apart in your life? Will you still trust Him when you can’t trace Him?”
Before you answer these questions make sure that you count the cost of your sacrifice. It cost Jesus His life. Are you willing to sacrifice your old life for those who haven’t heard the Gospel message of God’s love? (John 3:16)