Mark 8:34-35 KJV
34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
I want to be a straight shooter with you today, these words are not easy to hear, and they may be even more difficult to put into practice. However, they are the words of Jesus, and they are as relevant to us today as they were to the disciples a couple thousand years ago. The two verses I listed above, are as close to the center of the Christian faith as we can get, it is literally what a true disciple of Jesus was meant to look like. I will say one thing, any man or woman who truly follows Jesus cannot say that they were tricked or duped by Jesus or His words. The honesty of Jesus is almost startling isn’t it? In this time that Jesus is speaking in, to tell a man to take up his cross, would’ve meant, you must be ready to be labeled a criminal, and to be ready to die. Which of us are lining up for that role? Honesty is a mark of a truly great leader though, isn’t it? Jesus lets us know up front “if you are going to follow Me, it isn’t going to be something to be taken lightly, it is going to be easy, and it may cost you everything. Jesus was not only honest, He was willing to be the example we needed. Jesus didn’t ask His disciples, or us to do anything He wasn’t willing and planning to do Himself. It’s easier to follow a leader that leads by example isn’t it? Alexander the Great marched a group of his men over 400 miles in eleven days, the story goes that they had run out of water, and the morale of the group had begun to fade. A group of travelers had water that they could spare, but only for Alexander the Great, they filled a helmet for him and urged him to drink. Alexander said, that when he saw his men looking to him, just as thirsty as he was, that he gave the helmet back and would not drink until his men could. So inspired by their leader and his willingness to suffer thirst with them, the troops regained their morale, and sense of mission. They began to cry out to him to lead them forward, and they would follow him boldly. Jesus has done more than deny Himself a drink, He gave up His comfort of Heaven to come to earth, He gave up His very life so that we could be redeemed. He is the ultimate, honest, sacrificial leader we need. May we today, be like the soldiers of Alexander the Great and say, lead me forward Savior, I will follow you boldly, and loyally no matter what it cost me, no matter the suffering I may have to face. Tough words from Jesus today. Are you willing to follow them?