Thursday, September 13 – Following Jesus
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
By: Marcus Hill
In November of 2011, I embarked upon the journey of a lifetime. I traveled to Jos, Nigeria to minister, and assist missionaries. I recall, my last trip was during a time of crisis—armed robberies, car bombings, and slaughtering of Christians, to name a few. You are probably wondering why, amid all of this violence, I decided to return. Well, I did not choose, God sent me!
In Luke 14:25-26, Jesus reminded me of what it takes to be his disciple. Over New Year’s Eve 2012, I journeyed back to Nigeria at the request of our missionaries to be the keynote speaker for the youth at their annual Spiritual Life Conference. Unlike last November, this was a time of peace in the land. To my surprise, I was greeted at the airport by military personnel and called by name by locals who remembered me from my previous visit. As I walked through town and different ministry sites, I could feel the presence of Christ. Some of my most memorable moments were sitting between two Muslims having lunch, serving communion with unleavened pancakes, and praying over a baby girl whose life expectancy was not long.
Throughout my journey, I was searching for why God called me back to Nigeria. At one point, I wondered if I was playing Russian Roulette with my life. I continued to read the Gospel of Luke and came to chapter 14:27: “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” When Jesus says, "Follow me," it reminded me that as I follow Jesus, I will experience some of the same hardships and rejection that affected his ministry.
Can you imagine being a missionary? Being in the mission field, going from town to town proclaiming the Gospel, having to make new friends and relationships everywhere you go? When you think about it, that sounds like what God calls us to do. When God called His disciples, he never said following Him and doing ministry would be easy, but it would cost them everything. How could I learn from my Savior if I was not willing to walk in His footsteps and make disciples without realizing the cost?
Christ died on the cross for my sins and gave up everything for me to have eternal life. In Luke 10:2, Jesus told his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” God is always doing more than I know in every event in my life. And not just my life, in the life of his Church, throughout the city of Jos and even in the town of Andover, the harvest is plenty. I did not need to travel to Nigeria to be in the mission-field, but I am sure glad he sent me. If you want the experience I had, follow Jesus, and he will change your life!
Engaging with the Scripture
Read the scripture passage a few times and underline or circle “shockers”—things that surprise you or “blockers”—things you find difficult to accept. Then journal or talk to God about your questions, difficulties or surprises. What do you think he wants you to notice?
Then consider these questions
● What do you think Jesus means when he uses the word “hate” in v.26?
● What do you think the people in the crowd would have thought when he said that “whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
● What does it mean for you in your life today?
Talk to God or journal about how you feel about these words of Jesus and how you want to respond to them.
Please share your thoughts, insights and experiences of trying to live out this scripture in the comment section below.
Songs that relate to today’s theme