Did you know that Jesus did not come to make Christianity – or even Christians? Do you realize that He was not trying to start a religion or to found of a movement?
Jesus tell us:
for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. – Luke 19:10
But how does He do it? How does He go about this seeking and saving? In seeking and saving the lost He employs a dual call to each of us.
This two part call creates an interesting contrast. Jesus calls men and women to come. First we see this beautiful and welcoming invitation.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28
We hear it again in this call to anyone who has a spiritual thirst.
If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. – John 7:37
This first part of our journey to Christ, our walk toward relationship, toward salvation is a simple coming TO Jesus. He must first become our destination. It truly is the beginning of our life with God.
Jesus said of those who opposed Him in John 5
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. – John 5:39-40
Life is not found in the study of God. Life, eternal life, is only found in coming to Jesus.
So, step one in our relationship with the Lord is simple and straightforward.
Come to Me.
But as we arrive, looking for rest, looking for that living water, we find that Jesus has a further call.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. – Matthew 16:24
Step two in the life of a believer is to come after Christ – to follow.
I want you to see today that it is not enough simply to come to Christ. We must then come after Christ. We must follow Him.
Follow Him how?
We see in the verse above, Jesus calls us to deny ourselves. What does self-denial look like? Many equate self-denial with self-deprivation. It’s thought that I must not partake in anything pleasant or I am not denying myself. But I think this phrase ‘deny himself’ has a deeper and stronger meaning.
Jesus is our prime example of how to deny self.
Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. – John 5:19
We can boil this down one step further with Jesus cry in the Garden of Gethsemane:
Father … not My will, but Yours, be done. – Luke 22:42
This is the essence of Christianity. Set aside what I want – my priorities, my agenda, and take up His. It’s not depriving myself simply for the sake of going without. It is taking up God’s plan for us. Engaging in the works that He prepared for us and prepared us for.
Jesus states it in many ways at various times, but when the dust settles, the call is to COME. Come to Me then Come after Me.
How has this “come after me” call played out in your life?
Benjamin Nelson is a Jesus Lover, husband, dad, grandfather, worshipper, writer, preacher and almost author. He loves to see people activated in what God has created them to be. You can connect with Ben at AnotherRedLetterDay.com. Contact: Twitter | Facebook | Blog
Photo Credit: Ben Nelson