(Photo: Luliia Kovalova / Adobe)

By Joshua Stevens, Faith Contributor, Valley Ag Voice 

Imagine the excitement of the disciples fresh off returning from a journey in which they saw God move powerfully through them as they preached the gospel and healed many, then returning to Christ to tell Him of all they had accomplished in His name. Put yourself in their shoes, having the opportunity to tell the living Christ of the things you witnessed while ministering.  

Think of how you might feel if, while telling Christ these things, you look up and see thousands of people flocking towards you. People who have heard of this miracle worker, people who are curious about the things He has said, skeptics, people from all walks of life clamoring to see the spectacle of Jesus Christ — then to see this wave of people being warmly welcomed and taught by Christ himself while those who came in search of healing found it. Being told to pass out a few loaves of bread and some fish to feed the thousands gathered and then picking up the leftovers and receiving more than what you started with. Certainly, the disciples must have felt exuberant after experiencing and witnessing such miracles.  

There must have been excited murmurs amongst the twelve after the crowds left. While Christ prayed alone, the disciples may have exchanged stories, things they had seen in the crowds, rejoicing for what God had done. What would come next? Jesus would give them a simple command, one that beautifully embodies all it means to be a disciple of Christ.  

“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). In a single verse, we find that a disciple must embody three things.  

First, a disciple must desire to follow Christ. They are not compelled to or commanded to by a natural or supernatural force. But they have decided to follow Christ for reasons both known and unknown, seen and unseen.  

Secondly, they must deny themselves of the flesh and the ambitions of the world, deny themselves of a priority of materialistic belongings, and deny themselves of all that would inhibit their desire to pursue Christ.  

Finally, they must dedicate themselves to this pursuit of Christ. They must, daily, set their minds to desiring to follow after Christ, denying themselves anything that might cause them to stumble on the path of following Christ and seek after Christ and His teachings. In doing so, they would embody what it means to be a disciple.  

Again, think of how they must have felt in that sobering moment. Certainly, the imagery of “take up his cross daily” would have caused a deep gulp or drop of the heart. Coming off of the spiritual high after seeing miracles and thousands being taught of the coming kingdom to be reminded that, to become a disciple, they must live a life astoundingly different than the lives of those around them and may be different than the life they had led before being called to Christ’s ministry altogether. Though we know each of them stumbled and failed along the path of discipleship, we are lucky each of them dedicated not just themselves to the task of being a follower of Christ but bestowed it upon all whom they taught as utmost importance so we can continue living a life worthy of the Christ who saved us.  

Will you pray with me? 

Dear Lord, thank you for the breath you have given us. The freedom with which you have allowed us to choose to seek after Christ and the reward of pride, knowing we can help contribute to your almighty plan. Guide each of us as we desire to seek after You, deny ourselves the pleasures of the world that would separate us from You and Your will, and dedicate ourselves daily to the tasks you have given us. In Jesus’ name, I pray, 


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