I am following a read through the Bible in a year plan. My readings this morning were in the gospel of Matthew chapters 15 and 16. At the end of chapter 16, Jesus begins to tell His disciples He must go to Jerusalem to suffer many things, be killed, after which He will raise on the third day (vs 21). To this news, Peter rebukes Him, telling Him this will never happen (vs 22). Instead of agreeing with Peter, Jesus rebukes him along with Satan. He tells Peter he is being a hindrance to Him and that he is setting his mind on the things of man, not the things of God (vs 23).
The Cost of Following Jesus
After this brief dialogue with Peter, Jesus takes the opportunity to teach his disciples what it means to follow Him. The text says,
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
The cost of following Jesus is to daily take up our cross and follow Him. In other words, we are to be willing to give up our life for the sake of following Christ.
These are hard words to stomach. Even harder words for me to know the true meaning of as I live here in the United States free from religious persecution. We, in the United States, often want Christ and the world, but Jesus tells us we are to set our mind on the things of God, not the things of this world (vs 23). We are to sacrifice for the sake of Christ, even if it means we are uncomfortable, poor, or killed. Again, these are hard words for us, who live in comfort and have plenty. Even so, they are true and what we must be willing to do, if we want to be a follower of Jesus, because to follow Him is to take the road less traveled.
Follow Jesus: It is the only thing that matters
Gaining the world will not profit our soul. No matter how much worldly wealth or fame we have gained. In the end, all that matters is that we have counted the cost of following Jesus, recognizing it is much greater than anything this world can ever offer us, and we followed Him.