Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. - Jesus, Luke 9:23
Commitment means that it is possible for a man to yield the nerve center of his consent to a purpose or cause, a movement or an ideal, which may be more important to him than whether he lives or dies. - Howard Thurman
Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person. - Albert Einstein
The “offer”, the invitation of Jesus to come and follow was far more than an invitation to obedience, though that is often how Luke 9:23 is preached.
The offer of Jesus was an invitation to make a commitment to mastery. The Master was signing on men to take a journey of training in which at the end, the resurrected Christ would turn over the mission to those He had taken significant time and trained, men and women who would be ready at that moment to advance the Kingdom; offering Life and Love to all whose paths they crossed and in the process, bring others into training, passing along all the good stuff... just like their King had offered and passed on to them.
Obedience can get someone through a time, maybe even a season, but can it make a life? No. Serving no doubt has its times and its merit... but we need something fare greater, something in which service is a part but is not the whole. Friendship is what the Kingdom values above all things... intimate loving friendship! Jesus even said to his apprentices,
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. - John 15:15-16
Denying self is easy when you have a great reason why? Losing an old life so you can be grown up into a new one is easy when you trust the one who is doing the remodeling.
- Do you know Jesus as friend? Savior? King?
- What is the Master up to in your Life?
- How is He teaching and training you as His apprentice?
Jesus goes on in verse 17 to let His friends know what the “Training Journey” is called, the title He wants for all His apprentices, the one in which they had been on with Him for a few good years, Love...
This is my command: Love each other.
As He has loved us... So we are being trained up as the friends of Jesus to Love One Another.
Michael Thompson, author of Search and Rescue and The Heart of a Warrior, is a teacher, mentor, and guide for the hearts of men and women. He and his wife Robin are the founders and directors of Zoweh Ministries in the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. Zoweh functions as both a Medic Team and an Outpost to help people experience intimacy, oneness and connectedness with God and with others.
Michael and Robin have been married since 1990. They have three daughters: Ashley, Hannah, and Abbey, and they live in a redemptive community of friends and allies who work together to experience Life together and offer Life to all who God brings across their path.