Two letters, one word.
Jesus said: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
What is it to be a disciple of Christ?
It is to come after him. A true disciple of Christ is one that follows him in duty and will follow him to glory. A disciple of Christ comes after him like a soldier after his commander. A disciple is one who wants only to see God glorified - one who walks as he walks and is led by his Holy Spirit.
What is required?
If any man will come. Discipleship begins with an option – IF. If any man would come... Discipleship is a deliberate choice, an act of the will. Many fall into discipleship at other’s request or by situation, but Jesus desires that his disciples choose to volunteer themselves as his disciples.
1. Let him deny himself.
Admission into Christ’s school of discipleship begins with self-denial – it is the first lesson learned and the foundation from which all other lessons are built upon. Those who have learned self-denial are those who deny themselves absolutely and do nothing to seek life on their own terms. They are those who lay down their lives for others and only for their good. They have understood the difference between time and eternity and have chosen to forsake this life for the time to come. They no longer love this life’s rewards such as thinking their time is their own, no longer love leisure, power, authority and financial security for they have discovered how empty these really are. They become free to follow Christ and in so doing, will inherit eternal life and begin immediately to experience abundant life and the benefits of truly following Christ Jesus.
2. Let him take up his cross.
The troubles of believers are rightly called crosses – troubles including God’s afflictions, persecution for righteousness’ sake, troubles we encounter whether for doing well or for not doing evil. Isaiah calls this the bread of adversity and the water of affliction - my cross, my troubles are my substance (Is. 30:20). Every disciple has his cross. Every disciple must bear the cross that God has provided. My cross is not your cross. Your cross is not mine. I must not avoid, add to, or take away from that which Father God has made for me. I must take up my cross and not think what I am facing as an accident or evil, but I must rejoice in my afflictions for I know that it is working for my good. I must deny myself the pleasure of sin and the fleeting, deceptive advantages of this present evil age for Christ.
3. Let him follow me.
If I have denied myself, have taken up my cross, I now can follow Christ. He then bears my cross for me and bears it from me. I must follow Christ in all instances of holiness and obedience. As a disciple, I must study and imitate Christ, conforming myself to his example, regardless of what the world suggests or what troubles lie ahead. I must do well and I must suffer troubles for this is the way of Christ. A disciple studies to imitate their Master, and conforms themselves in every thing to his example, and continues in well doing, whatever troubles lie in their way. To do well and to suffer ill is to follow Christ. If any man will come after me, let him follow me. Those that come after Christ must follow after him.
If anyone would...