“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
In 2018 a team of boys in Thailand were dramatically rescued after being trapped for weeks in a cave. But one brave rescuer died in the process. As a trained Navy Seal, the man who died was well aware that the rescue mission was dangerous—and he did it anyway, along with the other rescuers.
Jesus begins to teach his disciples what lies ahead—that he must suffer and be killed and then rise again—and Peter finds this mission to be harsher than expected.
Jesus also begins to teach what it means to follow him. It is not about adopting a set of theological statements, signing a membership contract, or living by a moral code—although those can be good things. It is about sharing the good news that Jesus is Lord and is the only way to salvation. It’s about knowing that this path can be dangerous—and doing it anyway.
In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that a disciple focuses only on Jesus and not “the road which is too hard for us. . . . He leads the way; keep close to him.”
In the Jewish tradition of following a rabbi (teacher) and going everywhere he went, the saying was “May you be covered in his dust.” That’s the effect of spiritual tailgating!
As disciples, we are called to walk the challenging path of discipleship. And Jesus will always be right there with us.
Lord Jesus, thank you for all you have done for us. Strengthen us to follow you faithfully, knowing you are always with us. Amen.
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