A Disciple of Jesus Christ, above all else, loves Christ supremely…(continued)
What does that mean?
He loves Christ. He loves Him supremely. Jesus Christ is His chief joy. He is our goal in life. He brings us the greatest pleasure. If there is anyone we want to be with more than anyone else – it is Him. If there is anyone we want to know better – it is Him. A disciple of Jesus Christ does not love anything or anyone more than Jesus Christ. Not other people. Not popularity. Not pleasure. Not money. Not success. Not good looks. Not material possessions. A disciple loves Christ supremely.
Do you know why? It is because nothing on earth deserves to be loved like God does. Nothing created deserves to be loved for its own sake? Everything created is to be loved for God’s sake. 1Tim 4:4-5 ‘For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.’ The moment you love something for its own sake, it becomes idolatry. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only One we love for His own sake. That’s why Paul had counted his bloodline, his education, his status, and his achievements as dung. He could put it in the bin apart from knowing Christ. It also means we do not love Him as a means to an end. A disciple is not using Jesus Christ to get something else. He is not using Christ to look good, or to be admired as pious, or to make life more problem-free and comfortable, or to be healthier and wealthier, to have good luck. Because then Jesus Christ is not his or her supreme love – it is that thing they are aiming at. A disciple of Jesus Christ loves Jesus Christ for that reason – for Jesus Christ. He is the end!
Psalm 73:25 – Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
Think of this illustration from the Bible : Simon the Sorcerer did not love Jesus Christ for Jesus Christ. He wanted power, and he wanted money. And when he saw Peter heal, he showed his true colours – he offered them money for some of that power. Simon had even been baptised – but he was not a true disciple – he was in it for what he could exploit it for. Now how does a disciple come to love Jesus Christ supremely? The answer lies in the word ‘disciple.’ Disciple means, pupil, learner.
How do you come to love someone in the everyday sense? You get to love them by getting to know them, or to put it another way, by learning about them. Why does a disciple love Jesus Christ supremely? It is because he or she is forever in the posture of learning Christ, of wanting to know Him more. To know Him more than sports figures; more than a particular boy or girl; more than the latest financials at work; more than their children’s progress; more than music; more than theology for its own sake.
When you find a professing Christian without a desire to learn of Christ, you have a problem. Because a disciple wants to know – wants to learn. A disciple follows the master around, watches how he sits, stands, and prays. Because the disciple says, ‘I want to be like you, I want to know you.’ Do you have an appetite for the Word of God, an appetite for Jesus Christ?
- Hebrews 11:6 – But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
- Proverbs 2:1-5 – My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God.
How does God treat the one who is earnestly seeking, wanting to learn?How can we love Him if I don’t even know Him?
2. A Disciple Follows Jesus Christ Single-mindedly
Now again, Jesus had used some rather intense language. He says, if you do not carry your cross, and come after me, you cannot be my disciple. This same phrase is repeated five times in the Gospels; sometimes with the phrase, ‘deny himself’, added in. What does this mean? Some have taken this to mean Jesus wants us to carry a wooden beam around, and you have had people literally walking around with crosses. But that is not what Jesus meant here.
Remember, Jesus has not yet predicted his own death by crucifixion, so that is not yet in the minds of the disciples, though when they look back after the event, they would understand its great significance. What does Jesus mean? Who would be seen carrying crosses? Criminals condemned to death. It was a further punishment; the criminal had to walk up to the place of crucifixion carrying part of the instrument which would be used to execute him. It would be like a man condemned to the gallows walking down a street full of people carrying the rope and the noose. He is going one way – and it is to his own death. But Jesus adds the words, ‘and follow me.’ It is as if He is saying that this cross carrying is a prerequisite to following Him, or perhaps is part of following Him.
By follow Him, He means obey me – imitate me, follow in My footsteps.
– David De Bruyn, Professor of Church History, Shepherds’ Seminary Africa