I will make the assumption that if you are reading this blog you have a desire to follow Jesus. I wonder how many of us are willing to take that desire to the next level of actually pursuing Him, of walking in His footsteps. In the book of Matthew, the author records several stories of people who came to Jesus declaring their willingness to follow Him, yet turned back when Jesus revealed what the cost would be (Luke 9:57-62). Tomorrow we recognize the crucifixion of our Lord, so it seemed good to asses our willingness to follow in memory of His sacrifice for us.
As we look at the last days in the life of Christ on earth, it will be challenging to keep our commitment to follow Him. Can you truly say that you will walk His path no matter the cost? Based on His final week, here is what that might look like for each of us:
- Betrayal – Jesus loved His friends and cared for their needs. He trusted them and shared His life with them. For three years, His small band of friends had spent most of their waking hours together. Suddenly, one of those friends let His greed overcome Him and mercilessly sold out Jesus for the price of a small field. It was a large sum, but was it really worth it? If you follow in the footsteps of Jesus, you must be willing to be sold out by those closest to you. Those you trusted may exchange your friendship for something that feeds their own greed.
- Abandonment – When Christ was dragged away and was being publicly humiliated and beaten, one of Jesus’ closest friends was hurling curses and denying he even knew Him. When Jesus needed Him most, Peter couldn’t take the heat. To save his own neck, he chose self-preservation over loyalty. When you live a life that looks like Christ, prepare for you friends to run away from you in your darkest hour.
- Torture – To date, Christians in the Western world have rarely suffered physically for the sake of the Gospel. All around the world, however, we find a different story. Who knows how much longer we will find ourselves exempt from such treatment? Jesus was beaten with fists, with whips and with rods. He was tortured to the point of being beyond recognition. Through it all, He refused to curse God or His enemies. Are you really willing to face similar treatment?
- Forgiveness – Instead of seeking revenge or forever damning the souls of those who mistreated Him, instead, Jesus only response to His intense torture was to ask God to forgive those who were persecuting Him. This is not a typical response. Are we able to forgive those who have hurt us the most?
- Death – This is the one we most like to forget. Jesus died for telling the truth; He was murdered because His life reminded the people of their sin. If we live a life that looks like Jesus, we can expect the same. Every day people are killed because of their refusal to deny Jesus Christ. Someday we may face this same ultimatum. When your time comes, will you be willing to stand firm and choose Jesus even when faced with death?
Following Jesus is deadly serious business; it is not something that can be undertaken lightly. This isn’t about living an easy life or simply a cheap ticket to escape Hell. To follow Christ is to lose everything for the sake of gaining the only thing that truly matters. Are you willing to follow no matter the cost?