It Isn't Easy
Following Jesus isn't easy.
A T-shirt or cap supporting a local school.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24 (NIV)
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This is my favorite shirt — it represents the school where my children attend. I like to wear this shirt to show my children that I am proud of them and support them in everything they do. No matter what is going on at the school, I want to support them. I attend all of the sporting events, music programs, and fund raisers. I volunteer to serve on school committees and often serve as a chaperone on field trips or other activities. I attend Parent's Night and Meet the Teacher. In other words, I want to do everything possible to be a part of my children's school activities.
Now, it isn't always easy to do all of these things. It sometimes requires sacrifice. Sometimes, I may have to make a difficult choice between doing something I really want to do and attending a function that is important to my children and their school activities. Committment often requires sacrifice.
That is the lesson that Jesus was explaining to his disciples in our Bible lesson today. He was telling them about some difficult situations he would be facing in his life. He told them that he was going to have to go to Jerusalem where he would be persecuted at the hands of the religious leaders, be killed, and then on the third day he would be raised up alive.
Simon Peter protested! "No! That can never be!"
But Jesus stood firm. "Get behind me, Satan! You are seeing things from a human point of view, not from God's."
Then Jesus went on to tell his disciples, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?"
God sent his Son that the world might be saved, but it was not easy. Salvation came through the death of Christ on the cross. Jesus has called us to take up our cross and follow him, he never promised that it would be easy, but it will be worth it. There us no greater joy than following Jesus.
Let's ask God to help us to be faithful followers of Jesus.
Father, we thank you for sending your Son. It is our desire to take up our cross and follow him every day. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen