“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Matt. 4:19
It should come as no surprise that as Jesus called His disciples, He had some expectations for them. The same expectations that Jesus had for His disciples, He has for us now. They are lofty and not easily met. Nevertheless, if we want to be disciples of Jesus, we must strive to meet them as they are the conditions of discipleship that Jesus gave us.
Matt. 10:38 – …and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Matt. 16:24 – Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Mark 8:34 – Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Luke 9:23 – Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Luke 14:27 – And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
To be a disciple of Jesus means self-denial. This means doing things that we don’t always want to do and going places where we don’t always want to go. Even Jesus had to deny Himself as the road to the cross was not one that He would have chosen for Himself. This is why He prays for the Father to take the cup from Him but ultimately decides “not My will but Yours.”
Matt. 19:21 – Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Mark 10:21 – Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Luke 18:22 – When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Some preachers are preaching a gospel that is very different from the one that Jesus taught. They teach that a person with faith only needs to ask and God will make them prosperous. Instead Jesus taught us to renounce the pursuit of material wealth and concentrate on following Him.
Mark 10:28 – Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”
Luke 14:26 – “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple.
Matt. 8:22 – But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Luke 9:59 – He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
Luke 9:61 – Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.”
Luke 14:33 – In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
Jesus does not actually advocate hating one’s family but is rather stating what our priority should be. Jesus Christ comes first in our lives, ahead of everything else, including family. Those who want to follow Jesus but still hold onto other priorities that are equally important to them are not really following Jesus.