by Dr. Sergio E. Arevalo, Jr.
34. Then he called his disciples and the crowds to come over and listen. “If any of you wants to be my follower,” he told them, “you must put aside your own pleasures and shoulder your cross, and follow me closely. 35. If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live. 36. “And how does a man benefit if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process? 37. For is anything worth more than his soul? 38. And anyone who is ashamed of me and my message in these days of unbelief and sin, I, the Messiah, will be ashamed of him when I return in the glory of my Father, with the holy angels.” (LVB) Mark 8:34-38.
If I ask you today, do you want to be followers of Jesus Christ? What will be your answers? And what are the requirements of following Jesus Christ? There are at least three points that we can consider in our passage:
PUT ASIDE YOUR OWN PLEASURE
This life is very tempting, the world has a lot to offer with us: luxury cars, expensive houses, sumptuous foods, high positions in the society, highest respect of the society, money, etc. and when we have these tempting possessions, and high positions, it is very difficult to leave this kind of situation. Actually instead of leaving this kind of situation we are preserving and saving them. However, if we want to be honest disciples of Jesus we need to leave our own pleasure. For example, let us forget good movies and TV show, and have time in preaching the gospel and cell meeting. Let us forget our pleasure and abide with Jesus.
SHOULDER YOUR CROSS
Abiding with Jesus is no joke. It means life, life that you will give your very best. He does not accept excuses and alibis, he wants your time, talents and treasures – in other words He wants your cross to be shouldered. This might be a burden or difficult but that is the meaning of shouldering your cross. Politicians look followers that are honest to them, in other words when politicians say to their subordinates, “Jump!” they will jump even not knowing and asking why. The only question that is valid is that “what floor should I jump?”
FOLLOW ME CLOSELY
Jesus said “follow me closely” (LVB), although we are so busy in many works, we need to follow him wherever we are. We need to follow him closely. It means we must obey God often, we must be closer to God. When we are getting closer to God we are being purified by his glory and power.
There was a famous Roman General, Quintus Fabius Cunctator. He was discussing with his staff how to take a difficult position. Someone suggested a certain course of action. “It will only cost the lives of a few men,” this counselor said. Fabius looked at him. “Are you,” he said, “willing to be one of the few?”
Jesus was not the kind of leader who sat remote and played with the lives of men like expendable pawns. What he demanded that they should face, he, too, was ready to face. Jesus had a right to call on us to take up a cross.