Recently, I have been focusing my intentions on what it means to be a disciple for Jesus. Easton’s Bible Dictionary describes, “A disciple of Christ is one who (1) believes his doctrine, (2) rests on his sacrifice, (3) imbibes his spirit, and (4) imitates his example”.
Luke 14:27 guides us in this; “And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple”.
Jesus carried his own cross for as long as his physical body could bare. He had endured punishment on the cross without even committing a crime. He underwent abuse and public shame in order that you and I may be forgiven (Luke 23:22-47).
You and I will never have to physically carry our own cross. We will never have to endure punishment and public disgrace. However, when we are asked to ‘carry our own cross’ we are asked to give up everything we have (Luke 14:33). This is inclusive of any unrepented sins deep within our soul (Acts 2:38). We must choose dying to self in order to follow Jesus. This is inclusive of surrendering from worldly ways (Romans 12:2).
I sought after the Lord to show me any unrepented sins that may be lurking deep within ME. I wanted Him to show me what areas to rid myself of worldly ways.
He led me to the account of Judas Iscariot. The Bible shares of Judas, one of the twelve disciples, who would eventually betray Jesus. Judas was among those that physically followed Jesus. He heard Jesus’ parables and teachings. He was trained to heal and deliver people through Jesus’ ministry (Matthew 10:4-8).
You would think when you’ve spent all your days following Jesus that your life would mirror His. You would live a life completely without sin. But because of the original sin from Adam and Eve, humankind would still be trapped by the sin nature (Romans 5:19).
All for some cash from leading priests, Judas agreed to betray Jesus. Even after his devious agreement, he was present at the Last Supper. He was a partaker of the blessed bread and wine that served as a reminder of Jesus’ body to be broken and blood to be poured out (Matthew 26:14-30).
While Jesus was praying in an olive grove, Judas and a crowd of armed men came to arrest Him. The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss (Matthew 26:48-49).
This account has always left me feeling disdain for Judas. Until God showed me how some of my life choices have resembled this very behavior.
I’ve spent countless times chatting with someone on the phone or over a text, standing in the hallway of my workplace, sitting at a kitchen table with a friend. “Do you know what So-and-So did?”, “I cannot believe they chose to do that!”, “But I’m not surprised, they always make poor decisions.”. Then, to encounter said people in person. I greet them with an excited “Hi! How are you doing?”, offering a smile, a hug, or both. Simply put, betrayal.
I am not proud of this behavior. This was that unrepented sin that was lurking deep within me. After seeking God, I have repented immediately! I have asked Him for forgiveness and I know that He has covered me in His grace (1 John 1:9). The next step is to ask others for their forgiveness (James 5:16). This is giving up everything I have. This is dying to self. This is carrying my cross to follow Jesus.
I’m not the only one to fall into this all too common worldly way of life. If this is you, I urge you to repent and ask God for forgiveness. If not, I urge you to seek God and allow Him to show you what unrepented sin you do have deep within your soul. Carry your cross by giving up that burden of sin and dying to self. Choose discipleship and follow Jesus!
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”- Romans 12:2 (NLT)