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SOLD, Graphite on Paper, 43cmx 30cm (17″x 12″)
Jesus said, “‘Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it'” (Matthew 10:37-39)
Some of us have unrealistic notions of what it means to follow Jesus. It goes far deeper than simply attempting to live by his moral standards and faithfully attending church each Sunday.
When we love Jesus more than anyone or anything it causes division between us and the people who do not follow him and love him. In regard to this division of beliefs, Jesus says, “‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn, ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household'” (Matthew 10:34-36).
Just as the man in this drawing is doing, I pray we believers would also fix our eyes on Jesus and love him and be more devoted to him than to those who are closest to us on this earth, even if they oppose us. It is this love for Jesus that gives us the courage to walk through the intimidating mob and follow after him.
‘Why should anyone follow Jesus, and what is there to be gained if we have to suffer so much?’ someone might ask.
The apostle Peter asked Jesus a similar question when he said, “‘We have left everything to follow you!’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus replied, ‘no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother of father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first'” (Mark 10:28-31).
Eternal life is at stake. We must believe and persevere to the end, despite all of life’s obstacles, in order to be saved. (Read Romans 8:17 and Matthew 10:22).
“Then he [Jesus] called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-37)
“They [the apostles Paul and Barnabas] preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said.” (Acts 14:21-22)
To love Jesus and to be loved by him is better than anything the world offers us, and it is worth it to endure everything for His sake than to go through life (and death) without him. As the Psalmist has said, “…your [God’s] love is better than life” (Psalm 63:3).
(See “Take Up Your Cross” (John the Baptist Artworks Series), “Though None Go With Me, Still I Will Follow You, Jesus” (John the Baptist Artworks Series 2), “The Fellowship of Sharing in Christ’s Sufferings” (Believer’s Road Series) and “One Kernel” (Believer’s Road Series).