When you think about the promises of Jesus, what comes to mind? For me, they are verses like “I will never leave you or forsake you”; “Did I not tell you that if you would believe, you would see my glory?” or “”I go to prepare a place for you, that where I go, you may be also.” These are the kinds of verses that we often cling to, especially in troubled times. If you’re like me, they’re underlined in your Bible, recorded in journals, even stuck on the refrigerator between Charlie’s schoolwork, and the recipe for peanut butter cookies. I heard a pastor say that one time, we should go through our Bibles, and read all the verses we didn’t underline, and see what they teach us. Even though these promises are precious, Jesus made other promises that are just as real, even if they don’t cause us to pull out the high-lighter. Here’s a few:
• Matthew 10:17 But beware of men for they will deliver you up to counsels and scourge you in their synagogues.
• Matt.10:21 Now brother will deliver up brother to death and the father his child and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.
• Matt. 10:35 For I have come to set a man against the father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
• John 16:2 they will put you out of the synagogues, yes, and the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.
• Luke 21:16-18 You will be betrayed, even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends and they will put some of you to death and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake but not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls.
Jesus never soft-sold the gospel or the consequences of spreading it. He knew exactly what His followers might face.. He let them know that if they weren’t willing to count the cost, they weren’t worthy to follow him. He didn’t allow a lot of excuses, “let me bury my dead,” “let me go home and say good-bye”, “let me hold on to my money.” And unlike so many invitations to accept Christ proffered by evangelists, preachers, and well-meaning friends, He didn’t offer Himself as some sort of cosmic band-aid to put over their wounds, their finances, and their marriages. He didn’t say, “Join up with me and you’ll never suffer any of the consequences of your sinful life.” He simply offered forgiveness and to be where He was forever. (Not a bad offer in itself).
Many people temporarily aligned themselves with Jesus, then walked away. They were drawn to his miracles, to the authority by which he spoke, to his compassion, and even to the food he distributed to them. But they were not all willing to pay the cost of following him. Things he said were too hard, so they abandoned him. Keeping up with his prayer life proved impossible. Many lingered as close as they could, but couldn’t make “the final cut.” In fact, some of them made it all the way to the foot of the cross before they turned back. The saddest moment in the life of Peter was not his own crucifixion: it was the look in Jesus’ eyes when Peter denied him. Jesus forgave Peter, sent for him when he was resurrected, told him he loved him. But what was the greatest privilege that accompanied Peter’s repentance? The chance to die for him.
Jesus is not calling us to some half-hearted commitment. He knows the cost of being sold out. He never minimized it; He just lived it. Will all of us die for Him? Not literally. But He expects each of us to die to ourselves daily, and perhaps that is the harder death. Jesus knew that each of us must count the cost, and we must do it seriously. He told us that we were fools if we began to build without counting the cost. Sometimes, however, even after the house is built, an addition is called for, and once again we sit down. Do we have what it takes? Can we operate in His strength and ignore our own? Will the addition glorify Him? And are we willing to make payments?
Wow, Kathy. I stand amazed. You've outlined the exact message my soul has been sorely in need of. I am in full agreement with you. It's been one of my most common sayings... I suppose because I am often persecuted -- "I glorify Him in my persecutions, for it let's me know who my Master is... (one of those OTHER promises) ...because the Word says 'A servant is not greater than his master. They persecuted me; they will persecute you also.'" The persecution has fallen heavily on me of late. Thank you for your obedience in writing on this difficult subject. And thank you, JESUS, for granting me the grace to find such an article.