The Hardest Thing You Will Ever Do
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, . . .” Mark 8:34
Jesus will take you as far as you want to go in your spiritual journey. Not everyone is willing to climb the mountain with Jesus. During His ministry, Jesus had spoken to thousands, chosen 12, and now, three will go with Him. The content and condition of your faith are your responsibility. The transfiguration is preceded by a choice to walk in the way of Jesus. The grim reality of the cross comes before glorification. The choice to follow hinges on one word.
The entire pursuit of discipleship is determined by the word “if.” Literally, the word means granting or supposing. Jesus makes no assumptions about us following him. He simply says “if.” The choice to go after him, is placed in our hands. We decide how far we are going to go.
Jesus’ honesty is startling. He doesn’t ever try to lure anyone to follow under false pretenses. Jesus’ “if” will be the hardest thing you will ever do. Your soul will be wakened, weakened and stretched. Discipleship is challenging – because there is always the option of backing out, because our first instinct is self-preservation. But, Jesus didn’t come to make life easy, He came to make you great.
It was hard for the disciples to hear Jesus say He was going to be rejected and killed. It was even harder when He called them to take up their own cross and get on the road with Him. Jesus is not using cross-bearing as a metaphor of carrying burdens through life. It involves much more than a little heaviness here and there. For the disciples, carrying crosses meant being executed, dying a criminal’s death. In other words; following Jesus is hard.
The requirements for discipleship are stringent – deny yourself, carry a cross, lose your life. Following Jesus includes making hard choices. Jesus sets the bar high for His disciples. Jesus is promising eternal life that would begin here and now, and saying no to self was the beginning of the journey.
Following Jesus is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, because the natural instinct is to avoid pain. Our flesh doesn’t want to suffer. Our flesh runs from suffering at every opportunity. Jesus calls us to run into discomfort. To walk in the way of His passion. Making the hard choice leads to Holiness.
Of course, following Jesus is hard; were it to be any less, it would be merely a program. When taking up your cross consider what is gained. We are rescued, lifted out of the spiritual darkness. We are exchanged, Jesus has taken the old life and given us the new life of God’s Son. We are unashamed, we live out our loyalty to Jesus in front of friends and family. We are confident, because Jesus stands before His Father and the angels, speaking of His loyalty to us.
I choose to take up my cross and follow you.