March 31: “Is It Necessary to Follow Jesus?”

7 Minute Read

Today’s Bible Reading:

Deuteronomy 16:1-17:20
Luke 9:7-27
Psalm 72:1-20
Proverbs 12:8-9

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Luke 9:23 (NLT): “Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.’”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

In Luke 9:23, Jesus asked people to determine whether or not they wanted to follow Him. 

We may be tempted to think that He was looking at believers and asking if any of them wanted to get even more serious about their salvation. We believe this way is because the contemporary “gospel” has been separated from any expectations or demands. It has been reduced to a mindless prayer. We are told of example after example of people who “prayed to receive Jesus” when they were a child but became a drunk, and/or slept around, and/or refused to attend church, and/or had a potty mouth, or any number of other possibilities. “But they prayed as a child to receive Christ so they’re in Heaven.”

… or so we are told.

But, when we actually read the Bible, we come to see that while every believer will continue to struggle with sin, and some of those struggles could get very serious, the general rule is that true believers are Jesus-followers. We don’t just call Him our master; we “do the will of the Father in Heaven” (Matthew 7:21). 

Simply put, salvation by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) produces a life of obedience, or at Ephesians 2:10 says: “we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

So, when we hear Jesus saying, “if any of you wants to be my follower,” He is asking if anyone wants to be saved. That’s what saved people do. They follow Jesus and obey.

But, as we listen to the rest of what Jesus said, we hear Him explain what Jesus-followers will do.

Luke 9:23 (NLT): “Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.’”

Jesus-followers don’t live for themselves. We “must give up (our) own way.” We don’t wake up each day thinking of what we are going to do. Instead, we should wake up each day realizing that we belong to King Jesus, so we want to be sensitive to obey His Word and submit to His leading throughout the day. 

Further, we must “take up (our) cross daily, and follow (Him).” This means that we submit to His authority over our life. We acknowledge that we are dead to ourselves as we submit to the authority of King Jesus every moment of the day. Carrying our “cross” will be difficult, but following and enjoying a relationship with our Savior and Master is worth whatever the cost.

This is the kind of life the hymn writer, B. B. McKinney, told us about:

Take up thy cross and follow me
I heard my Master say
“I gave my life to ransom thee
Surrender your all today”
Wherever He leads, I’ll go
Wherever He leads, I’ll go
I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so
Wherever He leads, I’ll go

So, are you a Jesus-follower? Are you saying “no” to yourself so that you can regularly say “yes” to Him? That’s the life of a true believer. That’s the kind of life that gives evidence to the fact that Jesus has taken up residence in our hearts.


Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Posted by

I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s