If Truly We want to Follow Jesus
There is no denial that we truly want to follow Jesus. Today’s gospel seems to give us the true dimension on what it means to follow Jesus.
Today’s gospel was addressed to the disciples who in normal terms have been following Jesus, so what’s the reason of telling them again “If you want to follow me”.
Here one understands that Jesus wants to teach His disciples what it truly means to be a disciple.
Being a follower of Jesus is not just following Him around like the crowds do or mere answering a disciple but to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ there are things that must set us apart.
To understand it, we have to read from verses 13 of today’s gospel.
Before the gospel of today , Jesus asked His disciples who people think that He is, of which later Peter affirmed that He is the messiah, Son of the living God. This Jesus praised.
Verse 21 then says that from that time, Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must suffer at Jerusalem. The same Peter who proclaimed that He is the Messiah, took Him aside and rebuked Him, that never will such happen to Him ( Matyhew 16:22). Jesus rebuked this, saying that Peter is only concerned about the things of men and not the will of God.
It points to the fact that for Peter, the Messiah will never have anything to do with suffering. An implication that Peter’s view of following the Messiah is not that of suffering but glory and power, upliftment etc. Like many of us think today. Then Jesus begins to remind His disciples on what it truly means to follow Him.
This implies that to follow Jesus is not a way of out of earthly challenges but life of total self denial. It is life of choosing the will of God over our own will and willing to accept our daily crosses.
To Follow Jesus
To truly be His follower, Jesus gives three guidelines in today’s gospel, which are: to deny ourselves, to take up our crosses and to follow Him.
Denying oneself involves sacrificing one’s own interests in favour of serving Christ. This is when we have God’s interest as the number one.
It involves denying ourselves enjoyment, materialism, etc for the sake of salvation of souls. If Truly we want to follow Jesus, our self interests and inclinations should not take the leading role.
Taking our crosses involves accepting those things that come to us unwillingly.
Crosses are simply those things that do not give pleasure. We do not want them but they are there.
These crosses sometimes challenge our faith, but Jesus says instead of allowing our crosses to make us lose faith in God, we have to accept them in joy and still follow Him.
This then implies that crosses are part of life and not a sign that God hates us. If truly we want to follow Jesus, the love we have for God should be greater than any problem on earth.
If truly we want to follow Jesus, He should be the first in everything we do. Suffering and challenges cannot dictate to us how we can follow Jesus. Money and our needs must not dictate our faith in Him. If truly we want to follow Jesus, we must not lose faith despite the problems that we have.
What is the Gain?
Jesus asks “what will one gain by winning the whole world and destroys His soul?”
After everything man will acquire in this world, he will still abandon them at last. But man does not want to hear this. He puts his needs and possessions to be the most important. He wants to occupy the highest place on earth.
Man came into a world, he does not know how it came to be but forgets that he will go like he came. He was deluded into thinking he will live here forever.
Today Some people kidnap, murder, practice many evil schemes just to remain important, at last all he acquired becomes vanity upon vanity.
Jesus concludes that this type of life is with out gain. The highest gain is life with Jesus, the highest profit one can make is eternal life.
Just like the parable of the hidden treasure and pearl ( Matthew 13:44-46), Anyone who has it , has everything. If truly we want to follow Jesus, we have to do everything we can to gain this most precious gain, just like the saints did.
There is a Reward at Last
Jesus closes today’s gospel that the son of God will surely rewards each one according to His deeds.
In whatever we do, either good or bad, we must have our reward. Being a disciple and things are not working in your favour does not mean God has forgotten you and also that nothing is happening to you now despite your wickedness is not a sign you will go free. Rewards come at last. Heaven and damnation awaits all at last.
If we want to follow Jesus, let us remain focused to the end.
May God have mercy on us and give us the grace to never give up along the journey of life. May God continues to protect you from danger Amen