Luke 9 : 56 - 62, For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." And they went to another village. Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, "Lord, I will follow You wherever You go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." Then He said to another, "Follow Me.” But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God." And another also said, "Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house." But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." NKJV
In the context of today’s scripture, Jesus tells us that He didn’t come to destroy men’s (women’s) lives, but to save them. Later in the passages, Jesus asked some men to follow Him. However, they all gave an excuse why they couldn’t follow at that moment. Do you realize that same mindset is still alive and well in the church today? People want to be saved; nevertheless, they aren’t concerned with following through by serving the purpose that God has saved them to accomplish.
In the western world, we have made Christianity all about being saved. Unfortunately, we have omitted the key component to walking in salvation, which is following the commands of Christ. In Matthew 10 : 38, Jesus tells us that if we don’t take up OUR cross and FOLLOW Him, then we are not worthy of Him. Notice in both scripture references today Jesus’ focus isn’t on salvation. His attention is on us following His lead and doing what He says, when He says to do it.
The men who “wanted to follow Jesus” didn’t want to do so on Jesus’ terms, but on their own terms. When you and I came to Christ, it was because we didn’t have life; and we desired that He give us His life. However, now that we’ve accepted His life, does it mean that we are free to do as we please, or do what He requires of us whenever it’s convenient for us? According to the verses that I’ve given you today, the answer is NO!
Jesus also instructs His followers in Matthew 16 : 24 that we are to deny self. This is depicted in today’s text by Jesus rejecting those who said they “desired” to follow Him; nevertheless, they excused themselves in order to do something they esteemed “more important” at the time. We may tend to think that this teaching is harsh. However, we need to remember that hell is eternal, and the rejection of Christ’s invitation to follow Him is too serious to be taken lightly.
Throughout his epistles, Paul teaches about being a true disciple of Christ. He tells us to crucify self by dying to the desires of our old man; when we are dead to our fleshly ways, we can then live for Christ. Paul also teaches us that our life in Christ is not ours; it is His, and we should live “the life” that is pleasing to Him. Christianity isn’t based on convenience; it is based on commitment. If we aren’t committed to following Christ, then Jesus tells us that we’re not fit for the kingdom.
Finally, in Matthew 6 : 33 Jesus tells us to seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Placing Jesus and His will before our own makes it easier for us to forsake this world and its pleasures for an eternal reward.
Throughout the gospels, you will find that Jesus was always very gracious and longsuffering with people’s ways so that He might gain their trust. Even so, whenever someone came to Him, or when He called on them to do something, you will see that He was harder on them than those who just sought Him for a miracle. It is better not to make a vow to the Lord than it is to make one and then break it.
Deuteronomy 23 : 21 - 23, "When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you. That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth. NKJV
Let’s be doers of the word, not just hearers; and then we can all fulfill Hebrews 10 : 39, But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. NKJV
Following Christ and Denying Self,
Pastor Asa Dockery
Pastor Asa Dockery