Every person must determine whether to follow Jesus or someone
else. Some people choose to follow their own lusts and desires;
and yet others choose to follow Satan. Literally, anyone not following
Jesus is following Satan.
Notice that each apostle called to follow Jesus had to decide between
Jesus and their worldly pursuits. Matthew records four apostles
who left everything to follow Jesus: "Now Jesus, walking by the
Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew
his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fisherman.
And He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of
men.' Then they immediately left their nets and followed Him. And
going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of
Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father,
mending their nets. And He called them, and immediately they left
the boat and their father, and followed Him" (Matt. 4:18-22).
What does Jesus require of someone desiring to follow Him? He requires
us to deny our self and take up our cross. Jesus says: "If anyone
desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his
cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will
lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For
what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his
own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul" (Matt.
Think about the significance of Jesus' words. If I desire to follow
Him: I must deny myself of all desires contrary to the will of God;
I must be willing to pay any price for the sake of Christ; I must
give my life to Christ. And how do I do that? I take up my cross
and crucify myself.
See the image in your mind of sacrificing yourself upon a cross.
Paul said: "I die daily" (1 Cor. 15:33). "I have been crucified
with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me"
(Gal. 2:20). Jesus said: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let
him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Lk.
In Mark's parallel account, he includes the words of Jesus accounting
for the reason a person will not follow Jesus: "For whoever is ashamed
of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of
him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory
of His Father with the holy angels" (Mk. 8:38).
Why is a person not willing to follow Jesus? There may be several
reasons, but in this context: Because he is ashamed of Jesus. Those
who are ashamed of Jesus are ashamed to be a Follower of Jesus;
those who are proud to own Jesus as Savior and Lord are proud to
be His Follower.
Now, sincerely examine your relationship to Christ. Are you a follower
of Jesus who has denied self and crucified the flesh to put Him
first? Are you proud to own Christ as your Lord, or are you shamed
by others into denying Christ?
There is no middle ground. Jesus said: "If anyone desires
to come after Me . . ." Anyone is you! Are you a Follower of