51 When the days were coming to a close for him to be taken up, he determined to journey to Jerusalem. 52 He sent messengers ahead of himself, and on the way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make preparations for him. 53 But they did not welcome him, because he determined to journey to Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them, 56 and they went to another village. 57 As they were traveling on the road someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59 Then he said to another, “Follow me.” “Lord,” he said, “first let me go bury my father.” 60 But he told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.” 61 Another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
As Christians, we will eventually be required to make a choice between picking up our cross and following Jesus or choosing the easy way out and indirectly denying Christ. President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
This is exactly what Jesus meant when He told the disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25). In other words, Jesus is telling us that if we choose to follow Him, we will be required to put in effort and make certain choices that will not be in our personal self-interest. Hence we must “deny” ourselves, we must exert effort by picking up our cross (symbolic of pain and/or difficulty), and we must consciously choose to live contrary to the world by following Jesus.
There are a variety of different ways Christians may be forced to endure difficult and trying times while following Jesus. Our text for this devotion explores some of the costs people were required to pay in order to make Jesus their priority. Following Jesus kept a son from burying his father and kept another man from saying good-bye to his family. Jesus’ words are blunt, and they are clear, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
In other words, when we commit to following Jesus, we already know we will have to make sacrifices. Some Christians may be called to sacrifice in sports and weekend tournaments in order to attend church. Other people may be required find new friends. Some may even lose close family members who reject Christianity.
We know the Apostles were persecuted by being jailed, tortured and exiled. Jesus never promised us a stroll down Easy Street. But we do know we will be rewarded for keeping the faith—for denying ourselves, picking up our crosses, and continuing the march forward in obedience. Whatever our cost is to follow Jesus, keep eternity in perspective. “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Onward Christian soldier!
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What are some ways you have been required to sacrifice in order to follow Jesus?
- Have you ever thought about the extent to which you would be willing to sacrifice in order to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ?
- Read Matthew 5:11-12. In what ways do you find joy while sacrificing for following Jesus?
Pray Acts 1:8 over your family members today. Pray that each of them will respond to God’s call on their lives to know Him. Pray that each of them would be moved each day to follow Jesus, our Hope, daily, and share Him with people everywhere.