May 7, 2021
Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).
After having looked briefly at the steps to salvation and spiritual maturity in Christian discipleship, and before passing on to the paradox inherent in those steps, I feel it necessary to address a most important and fundamental part of the above cited text - one’s desire.
Jesus said, If anyone wishes to come after Me . . . . The ‘if’ here is 1st class conditional, meaning the premise is true (to follow Jesus) and the things that must be done to follow Jesus are also true. In English we would not say ‘if’ in a 1st class conditional sentence - we would say ‘since’, i.e. Matthew 4:3, Since You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread. Since the word ‘since’ in English would sound awkward in Matthew 16:24, the word ‘if’ is retained but it is still a 1st class conditional sentence.
The point I want to make is that because the sentence is 1st class conditional, the motive is one of desire. In other words, “Since you wish (desire) to follow Me, you must deny your yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.”
The word ‘wish’ means ‘to be inclined to’, ‘to delight in’, ‘to desire’. For those who desire to be Christian and to grow to Christian maturity, Jesus gives the appropriate steps. But you really have to want it. (Matthew 19:21-22) Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. Many have come to Jesus wanting to follow Him, but were not willing to count the cost. The same is true today.
Trusting in Jesus is not just a ‘head thing’, it is also a ‘heart thing’. It’s more than making a calculated assessment. It is personal desire matched with personal application and commitment. The story is told of the circus tightrope walker who announced he would walk across Niagra Falls. Crowds gathered on both sided of the falls. He successfully walked across the falls on the tightrope. When he asked the crowd if they believed he could do it again, except this time pushing a wheelbarrow, one enthusiastic fan shouted, “You can do it; I know you can do it. I bet my life on it!” to whom the tightrope walker responded, “Then get in the wheelbarrow.”
Jesus set the standard high for those who desire to be saved. You have to want it to the point you are willing to sacrifice everything to have it. And, if you are a Christian, you have to continue to want it in order to do what is necessary to grow to spiritual maturity in salvation.
“Thank You Jesus for giving me the desire to know You, to believe in and receive You into my life, and to follow You through the many years of my life. Continue to keep that desire alive in me. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”