June 22, 2022
The cares of this world are fleeting. Only what's done for Christ will last. Whom we follow matters. Not following Jesus will cost us both here and now as well as in eternity. Now is the time to decide whom you will follow and to discover the fruit of everlasting life from following Jesus.
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?"
1 In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3 And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” 4 And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” 5 And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. 8 And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. 1 8:10 Some manuscripts Magadan, or Magdala
11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.
14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 2 8:15 Some manuscripts the Herodians 16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus 3 8:25 Greek he laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life 4 8:35 The same Greek word can mean either soul or life, depending on the context; twice in this verse and once in verse 36 and once in verse 37 will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
In a time when it's all about digital followers and likes, I think back to Jesus' simple message to the disciples He called to follow Him.
With great technological advances come great distractions, misinformation, and challenges that didn't exist before. Everyone wants to have the most likes, to have their post or video go viral, and to have the most followers. We all tend to fall victim to this in some way.
What did it truly mean back then to follow Jesus? It wasn't a popularity contest or something to build one's own esteem. It was intentional, purposeful, and extremely costly. Jesus called people to take up their cross and follow Him. For the disciples, this meant following and professing Jesus courageously even with the threat of death.
What does it mean today to follow Jesus? For us, it means being set apart and denying the fleeting desires of this world that are in direct conflict with God's Word. As Mark 8:35 tells us, whoever loses their life for Jesus' sake and the gospel's will save it. The cares of this world are fleeting, destructive, and never truly fulfilling. However, the things of Christ's kingdom are everlasting.
At that moment of decision, it becomes the reality of deciding if we will boast in our weaknesses so Christ can be glorified, if we are willing to deny fleshly desires to follow Him, if we can see the beauty in His transformation of our lives and live out His commands daily, and if we can trust in the joy of our eternity versus the fleeting "like" button or follower count that culture provides.
Having followers can be fun but is mostly fleeting. Being a follower of Christ contains all the fulfillment, joy, and abundant life that the one true King of Kings promises. It's an amazing gift we get both now and in eternity. It doesn't fade like a mist, here for a little while and then vanishing; it's steady and everlasting, just like Jesus' love and faithfulness to all whom He calls to Himself.
1. How are you influenced by those whom you follow?
2. What are ways you can influence/impact those who follow you (professionally or socially)?
3. What does it mean to you to follow Jesus?
4. What are some tangible ways that you can take up your cross daily to follow Christ?
5. What are areas of distraction in your pursuit to follow Christ? How do you address and guard against those distractions?