FOLLOWING WITH JESUS
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
To the people of Jesus day, these words were quite disturbing. “Pick up your cross”, that was like saying “lie down on the gurney and stick this needle in your arm”, it was not very appealing and seemed to have nothing to do with spiritual life. That was not the case. Bearing our cross, denying ourselves, lies at the center of true spirituality, it is at the very root of finding joy in Christ. Wuest has some powerful insight on this passage.
“Follow Me. The word “follow” is akoloutheō “to take the same road as another does. It is, ‘Let him follow with Me.’ The idea is not that of following behind another, but that of accompanying the other person, taking the same road that he takes and fellowshipping with him along that road. The “coming after” and the “taking up” are to be obeyed at once and are to be a once-for-all act. That is, these acts are to be looked upon as a permanent attitude and practice of life. The whole life is to be characterized by an habitual coming after and taking up of the cross. After having once for all given over the life to the Lord, the believer must hence-forward count it ever so given over. He is not his own anymore. He belongs to the Lord. He is the Lord’s property.
Translation: And having called the crowd, together with His disciples, to Himself, He said to them, If, as is the case, anyone is desiring to come after Me as a follower of mine, let him at once begin to lose sight of himself and his own interests, and let him at once begin to take up his cross, and let him start taking the same road in company with Me, and let him continue to do so moment by moment.”
The joy of a trip has a lot to do with who is on the trip with you. We always go on our vacations with those we enjoy spending time with. Even on a long tedious trip, your companions make all the difference. Sometimes our earthly journey can seem long and difficult, but if you are “following with” Jesus, He makes all the difference. I love that, to take the same road with, and fellowship with Jesus along the road. Have you discovered the secret of enjoying the Christian life? The center of our pleasure comes from the closeness that results from picking up your cross and following Jesus. Isn’t it strange, the very thing we have tried to avoid is the pathway to the life of unspeakable joy.