If Jesus asked you to give up your biggest obstacle to following him, what would it be? No, that’s not rhetorical, but real. Here are some examples of our Master’s Plan of Discipleship, and they scare me. In Luke 9:57-62, two different people offered to follow him. One said he’d go wherever, and Jesus asked if he’d be willing to go without a home. Another said he wanted to first say goodbye to his family, and Jesus told him to not look back. Jesus asked the third other to follow, but he wanted to first bury his father. Jesus told him to let the dead bury their dead.
Two more. In John 3 a prominent teacher and leader came to Jesus, covertly, at night, and Jesus required that he be “born again,” implying he had to give up all he had gained in prestige and position and start over in the kingdom as an infant. In Mark 10 a young man asked how to get eternal life, and stated he’d obeyed all the commandments. Simply, Jesus told him he needed just one more thing, to sell all he had, give the proceeds to the poor, and then to follow him. The young man walked away, keeping his wealth but losing Jesus.
In none of these five examples did Jesus chase after them and gave them a chance to reconsider. In none did he soften the requirement.
Some questions come up. Did Jesus say we all must give up our homes? Or abandon our families? Or yield our positions or possessions to follow him? Not. Why did he do this to them? I suspect Jesus peered into their hearts, and discovered their biggest barrier to following. And, that makes sense. If we can give up the most significant hindrance, we can yield on lesser issues. So Jesus, firmly, dealt with the most difficult.
I have an idea that expressed grace. If a person comes to Jesus with a low bar and then finds the bar is higher, he may give up as a failure. Jesus made it clear from the outset that the bar is high.
Kick Starting the Application
So what does this mean for us? Ponder and pray a bit. What is your biggest obstacle to following Jesus? Like with these five, the specifics will vary, but I suspect at the core, it’s our desire to direct our lives, to be boss. The specific area merely represents what we most want. So our question—do we want Jesus more than anything else in life? With apologies to Lyman Coleman, that is truly the Master’s Plan of Discipleship (an allusion to a great book from some years back).
Next, are you willing to work on that? And please keep in mind, Jesus emptied himself of his divine attributes to come to earth for us (Philippians 2:5-8, with the result of his sacrifice in 9-11).