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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lent 3: Do You Really want to Go with Jesus?

"If any of you want to come with me," he told them, "you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me." 

There are things that Jesus said that we often wish He hadn’t said.....…things like forgive one another....or, love your enemy,...or, when someone hits you, turn the other cheek.....or, be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect......or open your homes to strangers.....or, if you call your brother a fool you are a murderer..................Things we wish He hadn’t said.

And it’s a small step, and an easy step and therefore a step which many of us take, to move from wishing He hadn’t said something, to living as if He didn’t say many of the things He did say.  Which is how so many of us live.  
"He didn’t really mean what it looks like it means!!!" we think to ourselves.

A few years ago the WWJD bracelets were very popular, they still are, and they are very challenging, but I’ve discovered something even more challenging and easier than asking WWJD, and that is simply to remember what Jesus said.

If you are prepared to have your personal comfort zone rattled, pick up a Bible that has the words of Jesus in red and just be reminded of what Jesus said, of what He says to you and to me, today.
I did this for a while, just a chapter a day, and just the words of Jesus and I want to warn you that more often than I found comfortable, I found myself saying, “Wow, did Jesus say that?”

In verse 34, Jesus says:
          “If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget self, carry his cross and follow Me.”

Some of us might have heard these words often.  Let’s be challenged/rattled by them today,

If anyone wants to come with me

Do you want to go with Jesus?....or.... do you want Jesus to go with you?  There is a difference.  Repeat.
Think of the pets you have, especially dogs.  We invite them into our homes, into our lives, people who know us might even say: “He has a dog in his life.”  I might even take the dog out into the world – on a leash.  And it might even look as though the dog is leading me, but actually I decide where we are going.  The dog is going with me, I am not going with the dog.  It might look like the dog is in control, but I am, I decide where we go, I decide if it’s safe or not.  The dog might want me to go somewhere, but If don’t want to or it’s dangerous, I just say NO WAY....I'm the boss.

Many of us have that kind of relationship with Jesus.  He’s our pet Saviour – we invite Him into our life but forget that we are baptised into Him and into His life. He's our pet saviour, we might even take Him everywhere with us, BUT...we remain in charge!

And so Jesus says, “If anyone wants to come with Me.”

Do you want to go with Jesus……?
And if your and my answer is "Yes"......then says Jesus: 

Forget self 

Some translations have, “Deny yourself."
Denying self implies a discipleship that costs something – what have I gone without this week because of following Jesus- but it also has a deeper meaning which implies moving from self-centeredness to God-centeredness, where self is no longer in charge...... God is.  No longer my will be done, but……Thy will be done.

Jesus goes on: "If you want to come with me, forget self and....

  Carry your cross

 Some translations have: take up your cross,

Luke records Jesus adding the word...every day.

On another occasion Jesus has said “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow in my steps……is not fit to be my disciple.”  (Lk 14:27)

Those who carried a cross were condemned to suffer and die.  There is perhaps a spiritual sense in which this point carries on the last, implying we must die to self will, but it certainly also warns of possible oppression, ostracism and even death as a consequence of following Jesus.  It means that following Jesus can be dangerous.  Sometimes folk say: "I can’t do that or go there,..... it’s dangerous. Well, that is exactly the point Jesus is trying to make. Those who follow the crucified one should expect (not go looking for) but expect... danger, suffering, even death.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in “Cost of Discipleship” reminds us that when Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.

Remember the body of Christ into which we are baptised is a……broken body.

Jesus says: If you want to come with me, forget self, take up your cross and……

Follow Me.

If Jesus in the flesh were to come to Alberton or Johannesburg this week from Sunday to Saturday, we all know where He would choose to worship on Sunday :-) {here at AMC of course} but where would He go tomorrow and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and Saturday?
Where are you going tomorrow and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and Saturday?
Will our paths cross His or will we be in very different places and with very different people to the ones Jesus would be with?

This third Sunday in Lent, we hear Jesus saying: “If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget self, carry his cross and follow Me.”
and we reflect on our lives and ask ourselves: 
Who is really following who in my life……

Jesus said, “If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget self, carry his cross and follow Me.”


Father, in the week ahead please help us to follow You, rather than to guide You.

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