And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
I try to imagine Jesus being led to Calvary: cross on His shoulders, wounds on His back, blood covering his body. It is terrible to think on. Yet, Jesus wants me to join Him?
Some did join him on crosses that day. Imagine one of them with me: being taken from his prison cell, his arms fastened to a cross, walking after Jesus to Golgotha.
What if he were to look back to those he recently shared his prison room with? What if he were to say one word of parting, one soul-revealing sentence? Is there any way he could frame the words, “Hey, listen! When I finish with this crucifixion, do you want to have lunch? Maybe tomorrow?”
No! Impossible! Foolish to even ask such a thing! The cross is going to consume him. There will be nothing left for afterward! He won’t make any plans with his friends. He won’t entertain other activities. He won’t even worry about his normal eating habits. The cross changes everything. Consumes everything.
That is part of what Christ is saying about discipleship. A disciple doesn’t wonder what he will do when his service to the Lord is completed. It never is! His following after Christ consumes all his resources and leads him rather to be concerned with that service, that purposed self-death, than anything else.
This is helpful because it places a focus on Christ at the center of our thinking about discipleship. We will know our discipleship is ended when, after walking before us so long, His pace slows, and he receives us into his arms. That must be our only plan through what lies ahead if we are to be disciples.
Are you a disciple like this?