Here’s a well-known Bible verse you’ve likely heard. It was spoken from Jesus to Peter and Andrew by the Sea of Galilee:
“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
Did you catch that? It’s subtle so maybe you didn’t notice. If you squint, you’ll see it. It’s between “Follow” and “Me”. It’s the fine print. Its the “catch”. And in this verse, it’s saying: “You’re going to end up martyred. That means killed for following Me. Dead.”
A few nights ago as I met with my not-so-small small group of high school students, one of them asked if he could share something that’s been on his heart. I said “Sure.” So, a few minutes after getting our Bible study underway, I turned it over the him. For the next several minutes, he shared from his heart what God has been teaching him recently. It couldn’t have been more transparent, authentic, and piercing than it was. To summarize, he wanted to make sure everyone knew and understood that to follow Jesus isn’t all that we as Christians (especially American Christians) sometimes make it out to be. Often times, we dress it up in an effort to make being a disciple more palatable. We soften it and water it down. He talked about the proverbial “contract” that we signed when we committed our lives to Christ. The problem is, it looks like many of us didn’t really understand what we were getting into.
But let’s never forget: Following Jesus is a matter of welcoming death. Are you willing to die?
*Its not so much “fine print” as it is faded print. Over the years, we have forsaken and even forgotten that in order to receive the life Jesus offers we must “take up our cross” and follow Him (Luke 9:23). But we’ve translated it as “hang a cross from your rear view mirror, ‘cuz that’s good enough” to follow Him.
I fear hearing Jesus say upon His return, “That’s not what I meant.”
All throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus shook people up with statements that seemed outlandish and radical. He seemingly turned His back on His own family, He promised problems when we follow Him, and He said His followers would be hated and put to death for following Him. He essentially told His boys: If you ain’t got a sword, sell some stuff and buy one, ‘cuz it’s about to go down (Luke 22:36). What happened to the meek Jesus? What happened to the Swedish, fair-skinned, gorgeous-lipped man we’re so comfortable with? What happened to the afternoon tea party Jesus that doesn’t expect much of those who come along? What happened to the Jesus I love so much because He agrees with me?
For many of us, I don’t think the Jesus we’ve imagined or the Jesus we think we’re following ever existed. The true Jesus is a powerhouse of passion for the mission of finding and saving lost souls. The Jesus that sits today on heaven’s throne is a God bent on the utter annihilation of sin, and total redemption of creation. He’s already destroyed sin’s power, and will soon destroy any trace of it ever existing. And He’ll do it all with one single word. The Jesus that walked the earth some 2,000 years ago didn’t and still doesn’t accept part-time applicants.
As we enter into this most holy of weekends–the 3 days that changed EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE FOR EVERYONE, let’s not be confused on who is calling us into the revolutionary love affair with Him and with His Kingdom.