"And [Jesus] said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." - Luke 9:23-24
"As they were going along the road, someone said to [Jesus], '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.' To another he said, 'Follow me.' But he said, 'Lord, let me first go and bury my father.' And Jesus said to him, 'Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.' Yet another said, 'I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.' Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.'" - Luke 9:57-62
Jesus is now setting his face to go to Jerusalem (v. 51). The days have come when he must suffer, be killed, and be raised on the third day (v. 22). Those believers who choose to follow him as disciples must realise the great difficulties that lie ahead. The standards of discipleship are extremely high. Disciples must leave everything behind and not look back.
From these verses, we learn: (1) every believer is invited to come after Jesus as a disciple; (2) a disciple must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Jesus; (3) whoever loses his life for Jesus' sake will find it; (4) the main job of a disciple is to go and proclaim the kingdom of God; and (5) a disciple must put his hand to the plow and not look back.
Father, show us how to be disciples of Jesus in the 21st century. Raise up disciples in Dunedin from all walks and stages of life. May we make resolute decisions to go after Jesus as disciples. May disciples encourage one another along this difficult path. May we find our lives by losing our lives for Jesus' sake. Give us eternal perspective on how to spend our time wisely. May we simplify our lives so that we have more and more time to devote to proclaiming the gospel in Dunedin. Give us determination and perseverance. May we not get sidetracked by the temptations and distractions of this world. In Yeshua's name, amen.
- Jeff Coleman