I WILL FOLLOW CHRIST

If the question “Why are you a Christian”? is asked, the answers will include, but will not be limited to:

Because Jesus Christ died for my sins.

Because He called me. “No one can come to the Father unless he is called”.

Because I’m grateful for all that He has done for me.

Because He saved me, and I want to go to be with Him in eternity.

Now, if asked “What identifies you as a Christian”?

What will you say?

What is your identifier?

Would it be:

That you believe (affirm and not deny) in Christ, meaning, that He is the Son of God?

That you don’t engage in certain activities?

That you speak a certain way?

That you attend church?

That you pray to God?

That you perform certain acts?

This is a reflective question, by the way. So, you really have to honestly ask yourself.

We have come to accept the definition of a Christian as “A follower of Christ”.

The word I’d like us to focus on here is the word “Follower”.

Matthew 16:24:

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

John 10:27:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

John 12:26:

If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

Now, let us examine this passage:

John 6:

And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

Here we have Followers exhibiting: acts of recognition, acknowledgement, listening to His word, following Him, and even being a disciple.

Yet, according to verse 66 – Many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.

What had Jesus said prior to their turning back?

He didn’t condemn them. He didn’t call them sinners. They has also recently witnessed the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

So, why did they turn back?

John 5:

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

This is what Jesus had just finished saying.

To which the bible tells us that the response was:

60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

Now, we know that the Word of God says:

65 And he said, Therefore, said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

But in that same chapter, Jesus also said:

70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

Now back to our original focus: What makes you a “Follower” of Christ?

What identifies “You” as a Christian?

Attending church alone doesn’t do it – Judas Iscariot was in Christ’s entourage.

Outward disciplines alone don’t do it (Don’t do this, and don’t do that; do this, and do that) – Those can also be a byproduct of nature, and a strong will.

Believing in who Jesus is alone doesn’t do it – Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19)

So, brethren, what is the measure? What is the bench mark? What separates us from devils, disciplined/upright/moral/well behaved/refined, do gooders, and those fascinated by the miracle working man of God?

Matthew 11:

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Isaiah 53:

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

We all want “to be like Christ”. Yet, none of us are ready to IDENTIFY WITH CHRIST.

With his humility. The true Humility. King of Kings, coming down to earth. To suffer. To be ridiculed. To be treated worse than a murderous robber. Spat upon. Jeered at. Flogged. Shamed.

Having the power to call down a legion of Angels to rescue Him.

Yet, He did not. He uttered not one word in protest, vindication, or self-defense.

He took it. He did it. In obedience.

Obedience to His father.

The requirement for our salvation was death and bloodshed, by virtue of our transgressions.

It was not the price for Christ’s salvation. It was the price for our salvation.

Jesus, died and shed His blood. For us. That was the requirement.

He obeyed.

His focus was strictly on what God asked Him to do.

John 4:

34Jesus said unto them, “My meat is to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work”.

The requirement for we who are “Followers of Christ” is no different.

We are called to Obey.

But, obey what?

What exactly are we being called to obey?

Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23 all say the same thing:

“If anyone will come after me, let him DENY HIMSELF, take up his cross, and follow me”.

It’s as simple as that brethren.

It can’t just be taking up the cross.

It can’t just be following Him.

We MUST deny ourselves.

The very personality of Christ is embodied in Holiness and Power, becoming sin and shame, that His Father in Heaven may be glorified.

It is all done, so that our Father in Heaven, may be glorified.

It is in the total denial of SELF, that we completely identify with CHRIST.

We are quick to recognize that everything in this world is temporary, and will pass away. Yet, we spend every waking moment, and every decibel of prayer, fighting for these very things.

Wealth, health, spouse, love, children, promotion, respect, advancement, affirmation, validation, admiration.

Our enemy is no longer Satan, but the people we don’t like. The ones who don’t like us. The ones who offended us; who hurt us; who scorn or shame us. Who don’t give us what we believe we deserve, or are entitled to. Who take what we believe belongs to us.

The world, and everything in it, that we acknowledge to be fleeting, is the world, that every moment that shapes or makes us, is based on. We validate God not on simply being God, but by what God gives us through these temporal things!

When we have, we’re happy. When we don’t have, we’re sad.

Matthew 10:

37He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Luke 9:

58And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

62And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

If the only way that Salvation could be wrought for us was for Jesus Christ to deny Himself; and the formula for being saved, or receiving eternal life is to die to self, and live in Christ, then, the only way that we can live in Christ is to deny our own self, as He denied Himself.

John 20:

21 Then said Jesus to them again, “Peace be unto you. As my Father hath sent me, even so I send you” 22And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said unto them “Receive ye the Holy Ghost”.

John 15:

20 The servant is no greater than his Lord.

Brethren, let us let go of everything that we believe that we are entitled to. By whatever virtue, fact or grace that causes us to have them.

Let us not be driven by the cares of this world( Mark 4:19). The blessings; the hardships; the joys; the sorrows; the things we have; the things we desire; the things we wish to be rid of.

Let us stop making them our idols.

The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Yet, He remains God!

Fact: We do not have the power to make, unmake, do, undo, have, not have, ANYTHING in this world, unless the Lord allows it. No matter how strong our faith; No matter how fervent our prayer.

Fact: He is still God. He Remains Creator, and Ruler of all!

Jesus asks us to learn from Him. We can only learn from Him by identifying with Him. We can only identify with Him if we surrender to Him.

By surrendering our self for His Self; our will, for His will.

Now unto Him who is able, to keep us
from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory, with exceeding joy. To the only wise God, our Savior, be glory, majesty, dominion, and power, both now, and forever. Amen.

In Christ.

The handmaid at His feet.

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