After eliciting a confession from Peter of whom he thought Jesus was, Jesus set forth the terms of discipleship. It was a free gift that would cost you everything. Self-denial and radical abandon are what it costs to follow Jesus.
This stands in stark contrast to Herod and the crowd. Herod longed to be entertained by Jesus, and the crowd wanted a mighty servant. Their desires betrayed their own misunderstanding of who Jesus was. In Matthew’s account of the confession, Jesus tells Peter that he is blessed in that confession, since he didn’t come up with it on his own. God revealed it to him. And we know that he didn’t even completely understand what had been revealed to him, as he goes on to rebuke Jesus for the death-march plan. But Jesus is Lord. He is the conquering king. And the terms he offers to rebels is total surrender … nothing less.
Yet as we surrender all to Jesus, our eyes are opened to see that we’ve lost only rubbish (Phil. 3:8), and we gain an inheritance in the Kingdom of God. To live as a citizen of heaven in this period when the victory is won, but sin still abounds, is to live a life of suffering and sacrifice. But our light and momentary afflictions are not worth comparing to the glory to be revealed in us (2 Cor. 4:17).
It’s not optional. It’s the narrow path. Are you walking it? What you think of Jesus determines your actions. We should reverse the equation and ask what our actions reveal about our estimation of the Lord. Are you carrying your cross? Have you drawn limits to what God may ask of you? Have you taken anything “off the table” when it comes to sacrifice? Who do YOU say Jesus is?
We stand on the other side of the tomb … it is empty now. We have our hope made more certain. And we are called to abandon ourselves to the great King who laid down his own life for ours. It is the greatest of understatements to say, this King is worth following.
What’s holding you back from total surrender?