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BEING A FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST
Text: (Mark 8:34) And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (KJV)
I. WHY FOLLOW JESUS?
Jesus had done many miracles and had been teaching the people. In this 8th chapter of Mark we have the account of His feeding 4,000 and then in verse 19 He makes reference to when he fed 5,000. All this caused Him to have a great following. Lots of people want the loves and the fishes. Lots of people agree with what Jesus has to say about loving everybody and doing good and those things that pertain to an upright life as far as the world sees it.
There appears to have been people there that had the disposition to join themselves to the good things Jesus did for them. But Jesus wanted them to know that along with that came the cross.
So Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do these people say that I am?”
Some said John the Baptist, risen from the dead. John preached repentance and stood for right even against the rulers of his day and they respected him and looked up to him. Others said Jesus was Elias or one of the prophets that had performed miracles back in the Old Testament dispensation. And certainly these prophets were looked up to.
But Jesus got right to the center of the matter and asked the disciples, “Whom do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said unto Him, “Thou art the Christ.” Now if He was Christ there were certain things He was going to have to suffer for He came to save people from their sins, and He told the disciples these things. It seems He took them aside and told them and of course Peter was quick to answer Him and it seems Peter told Him these things would not be. But Jesus said, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” In other words Jesus said to Peter, “Your thoughts and God’s thoughts do not agree.” Many people today are thinking like the world and their thoughts are not in agreement with God’s thoughts. They have no comprehension of what it really means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. They know little of what it means to “take up your cross and follow Him.” They know little of what Jesus meant when He said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.´
Most people today only treat following Jesus as saying they are “born again” and joining the church and submitting to a few certain rules of that church. But Jesus expects more than that of His followers.
I’m glad there are some rules set down in the Church Discipline but it takes more than that to make me what I should be and a real follower of Jesus. Remember the words of Jesus, (Matthew 7:21) Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (KJV)
Now he says, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Now after Jesus had told His disciples about His coming sufferings and death and they understood this time what He meant for the Word says He “spake openly.” (Mark 8:34) And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (KJV)
Now those Jews and Gentiles alike that heard Him say this knew just what He meant. It wasn’t foreign to them or was it a saying that was hard for them to understand. Jesus was telling them that they were going to have to leave everything to be a follower of His. Jesus never hid from his disciples what it would cost them to follow Him. Again and again there were signs of defection on the part of the people, and Jesus gave the 12 disciples opportunity of leaving Him if they wished to do so. (John 6:67-68) Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. (KJV) Only whole hearted service is acceptable to the Lord.
II. WHAT DID JESUS MEAN WHEN HE SAID, “WHOSOEVER WILL COME AFTER ME, LET HIM DENY HIMSELF, AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS, AND FOLLOW ME.
1. IF WE ARE TO BE HIS FOLLOWERS AND ENJOY THE PRIVILEGES THAT HE OFFERED THEN WE MUST COME VOLUNTARILY.
“Whosoever will come after me, let him…” There was no force used here. Everyone that ever followed Jesus did it voluntarily. The Holy Spirit will convict us of our sin and plead with us to come to Jesus but He never forces us to give our lives to Him. Jesus said, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”
You will never know what it is like to have a real experience in Him, enjoy the privileges of the Kingdom, until you voluntarily submit yourself to His will and take up your cross and follow Him.
Jesus never put the cross on you. It is the enemy of your soul that puts the cross on you. When you would take your stand for right and would do what you know you should do in the sight of God, the devil through people or circumstances puts the cross before you and you either yield to those people or circumstances or you deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Jesus.
It is not a cross to believe, really believe on Jesus and live like you know He wants you to, until the enemy of your soul puts pressure on you. He often does this through people as they ridicule you for taking a stand for what is right.
2. IF WE ARE TO BE HIS FOLLOWERS WE MUST RENOUNCE ALL THE THINGS OF THE WORLD, FALSE NOTIONS, IDOLATRY AND ANYTHING ELSE FOREIGN TO FOLLOWING JESUS.
The proselyte back in Jesus day, was required to perfectly renounce all his prejudices, his errors, his idolatry, and everything that concerned his false religion; and that he should entirely separate himself from his most intimate friends and acquaintances. It was on this ground that the Jews called proselytism a new birth, and proselytes new-born, and new men; and our Lord requires men to be born again, not only of water, but by the Holy Ghost.
Followers of Christ must renounce their past life and start life over on a different plain.
Jesus wanted His followers to realize that to follow Jesus meant a separated life – separated unto God and from the world. The world no longer was to have any hold on them but they were to cling to Jesus. He not only was to be their supplier but He was to be their hope.
In John chapter 6 Jesus was preaching about being their “Bread of Life,” and it says that some said, “This is a hard saying,” and they followed Him no more.
That is just the reason why some do not follow Him today. “Whosever will come after me, let him deny himself.” Most people don’t want to deny themselves. They don’t want to be what they should be, or do what they know Jesus requires of them regardless of the circumstances or who is around. They don’t want to be separated. But if you are going to receive from Him what He has for you this is the only way.
3. IF WE ARE TO BE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST WE MUST SUBMIT TO HIS YOKE.
The proselyte Jew must submit to the yoke of the Jewish law. This wasn’t just the ten commandments but the ceremonial law as well. It didn’t matter that friends or relatives or anyone else said that it was foolish or not necessary, if they were to be the worshippers of the God of Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob they had to accept and keep all the ritual and laws of that God.
When the sacrificial lamb was brought to the priest for a sin offering it had to be a lamb without spot or blemish. When the holy days or the Sabbath days came they had to cease from their work and worship God.
It didn’t make any difference who did or who didn’t if they were to be true Jews they had to – with a willing heart. Their sacrifice had to be brought by choice.
Now we aren’t under the yoke of the law but under the grace of God. But we still have to take up our cross and follow Him.
(Matthew 11:28-30) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (KJV)
What is His yoke? It is His doctrine; it is His Words; it is living by His Word so as to know we are following Him in all things.
To take His yoke up implies that we profess openly; live openly before all men what He teaches. In this day there is no yoke to saying Jesus was the son of God and that He was crucified and rose again.
The Yoke is in denying ourselves and taking up our cross and following Him. Submitting to persecution for His sake. In reality it is for our souls sake as well.
As we follow Him we began to realize what He meant when He said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” It pays to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him.
4. IF WE ARE TO BE FOLLOWERS OF GOD WE MUST BE READY TO FOLLOW HIM EVEN AT THE COST OF OUR LIFE.
The proselytes of the Jews were to engage continually in the Jewish religion, even unto death. Jesus laid down the same condition here when he said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.”
He meant that if we would come after Him we must do what He would do; go where He would go. If there is anything doubtful about it we need to ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” Is this the practice or the place where I would find Him? Am I a follower of Jesus? Am I following His example?
A complete following after Jesus calls for a will that will be true to Him.
Whenever His will points one way and our inclination points to another way we have to turn and follow Him.
It isn’t enough to show an outward sign of happiness. Christian character comes from the heart and is tried in life’s circumstances.
We must know that we have not only come after Jesus but we must know that we are truly following Him.
If the soul is lost everything is lost.
Our life reaches far beyond things seen.
Death is the grave of earthly pleasures, but it is the gateway of heavenly joys if we have followed Him.
“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
How do you measure up?
Are you a true follower of Jesus?
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Thank you Rohn for another wonderful message.
He who cultivates his land will have plenty of food,
but from idle pursuits a man has his fill of poverty
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