In the last article, the context was set for the cost of discipleship. Jesus has summoned both the multitude and His disciples and asked them a pointed question, “If anyone wishes to come after Me?” This is the question He is still asking today. However, before one answers the question, Jesus explains that the choice of discipleship comes with a price. What exactly will discipleship cost? Jesus answers the question by giving three conditions, specifically one must be willing to: deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34).
Firstly, what does it mean to deny oneself? The word “deny” is the Greek word, aparneomai, which means, “to disown and renounce self; to subjugate all works, interests, and enjoyments.” The knowledge that there is a choice should cause one to consider the opposite of denying oneself. Basically there is a choice given to bring one’s life under the dominion and control of Jesus Christ or one can choose to keep control of one’s work, interests, and enjoyment. Is this not what the world is choosing? How many times have you recently heard the statement, “I did things my way!”
Secondly, what does Jesus mean when He states, “take up his cross?” The word “cross” is the Greek word, stauros, which specifically in this verse means, “that portion of affliction which is endured by pious and good men as a trial of their faith and to conform them to the example of their crucified Master.” The cross is a symbol of death. It was a curse and still is. The one who chooses a cross must be willing to suffer all that is connected with the cross, namely: the humiliation, rejection, betrayal, pain, and suffering and death. Jesus stated, “A slave is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).
Thirdly, Jesus summons His disciples to follow Him. The word “follow” is the Greek word, akoloutheo, which means “to attend or accompany.” Spiros Zodhiates, expounding on the definition, states, “The individual calling to follow Jesus involved abiding fellowship, not only for the sake of learning, but also for salvation. The first thing involved in following Jesus is a cleaving to Him in believing trust and obedience. Those cleaving to Him must also follow His leading and act according to His example. Hence, constant stress is laid by the Lord Jesus upon the need of self-denial and fellowship of the cross. Following Christ involves fellowship, faith, life, and suffering both inwardly and outwardly.”
Jesus is summoning today. Consider the cost. You alone can choose. But before choosing, consider what Jesus said next, “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake or the gospel’s shall save it” (Mark 8:35). The choice is yours?