October 17 (Daily reading: Matthew 14; Mark 6; Luke 9) This lesson is adapted from my book, “We Love Because God First Loved Us,” pages 41-42. In Luke 9, Jesus presented three conditions of discipleship: deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Christ (v. 23). He then talked about three potential disciples and evaluated how they met the conditions (vv. 57-62).
The first attitude of a disciple is submission. An enthusiastic disciple volunteered, “I will follow You wherever You go” (v. 57). Jesus stressed the difficulty because he knew the potential disciple’s heart. Discipleship involves learning how to depend on Him so that He can work through us. Jesus’s advice to the enthusiastic disciple: “Deny yourself.” We must deny the temptation to follow Christ in our own personal ways and accept His will and His ways.
The second attitude is dedication. A tentative disciple responded to the invitation to follow Jesus by saying, “Permit me first to go and bury my father” (v. 59). If his father had just died, he would have been at home. This was a question of priority, and the person used the father as an excuse for being disobedient. We must avoid the attitude that says, “I will follow Christ someday, but I have other priorities now.” Jesus’s advice to the tentative disciple: “Take up your cross daily.” Make God’s will your preoccupation every day!
The third attitude is resolution. A procrastinating disciple made a conditional commitment: “I will follow You, Lord, but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” This excuse was only a delay tactic. The opposite of resolution is indecision. Jesus said to this person: “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Jesus’s advice to the procrastinating disciple: “Follow me today!” We will never follow Christ if we do not make a start!
– Al Gary