The path of following Jesus Christ and the cost and rewards of taking the journey.
We have a path before us in life, and Jesus is on the path. If you are going to follow Jesus Christ you need to walk onto the path and follow Him as He comes in to your life, or you might lose sight of Him as He passes from your life. Losing sight of Him as He leaves your life makes it very hard to find Him again later. Some people of this world I know choose not to follow Jesus Christ for reasons they think are good to them. I would like to talk about both of these choices, and what the consequences are to you.
It says in John 8:12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
Here in Mark 10:21 “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven: and come, take up the cross and follow Me.
We see here in these verses from John and Mark some of the rewards and cost of following Jesus Christ right from the Bible. In Matthew 10:34-39 we read further that Jesus states clearly what it means to follow Him. “34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
You can see the cost is high if you are following Jesus Christ, but the reward is Great! Jesus demands we give all to Him. This will and does lead to difficult choices for us believers, sometimes we feel like turning back, even His disciples decided that following Jesus was too difficult the night He was arrested. To be a follower of Jesus Christ that night would mean possible arrest and crucifixion.
To truly follow Jesus Christ means He is everything to us. We put everything and everyone second to Him, and give our lives to Him, in more then one way. To truly follow Jesus Christ we do not follow anyone or anything but Him. There is no such thing as a “halfway disciple.” As the disciples demonstrated, no one can follow Christ by the strength of his own willpower. The Pharisees were good examples of those who were trying to obey God in their own strength. Their self-effort led only to arrogance and distortion of the whole purpose of God’s Law.
Jesus gave His disciples the secret to faithfully following Him, but they did not recognize it at the time. He said, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63.
Following Jesus means striving to be like Him. He always obeys His Father, so that’s what we strive to do “And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.” John 8:29. It means every thought we have and every thing we do in life is filtered through His words with the goal of glorifying Him. We can’t do it by ourselves on our own, but we can do all this with the Holy Spirits’ help.To follow Christ means we apply the truths we learn from His Word and live as if Jesus is walking beside us on the path in person.
So we see it is a hard but rewarding path in following Jesus Christ: follow Christ and live or turn from Him and die! Let us look briefly at what it looks like to not follow Jesus or worse, reject Him altogether.
In Deuteronomy 7:4 God says “For they will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.”
Joshua 22:29 “God forbid that we should rebel against the Lord, and turn this day from following the Lord, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the Lord our God that is before His tabernacle.”
I want to show you in Ezekiel what happens when you don’t follow God, or worse, disobey Him altogether. Keep in mind here as you read, that Israel and the Jews are God’s beloved chosen people. See what God is capable of doing to them and think of what He can do to others.
Ezekiel 8 “1 And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me.
2 Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber.
3 And he put forth the form of a hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.
4 And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain.
5 Then said He unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry.
6 He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.
7 And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall.
8 Then said He unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.
9 And He said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.
10 So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about.
11 And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up.
12 Then said He unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, the Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth.
13 He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.
14 Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
15 Then said He unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.
16 And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.
17 Then He said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.
18 Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.”
Ezekiel 9 “1 He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.
2 And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brazen altar.
3 And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon He was, to the threshold of the house. And He called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side;
4 And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
5 And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
6 Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.
7 And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.
8 And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord God! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?
9 Then said He unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not.
10 And as for Me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head.
11 And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.”
People today talk about God as a loving nonjudgmental God who goes along with anything you think is good. I see a very loving caring God who gave us His only Son for us, but He is our God, the one who made us and everything else around us. He gave us rules and laws to live by. He did this for a very good reason: one, these rules and laws are for our own good, and two, He wants and demands us to worship and Obey Him always.
If you still think God does not judge us, and if you still think making Him mad and disobeying Him will bring you no consequences, you’re wrong. I would highly recommend you read the whole book of Ezekiel, as well as other books in the Bible to see for yourself the awesome power the Lord has, and can and does use!
I would say it is much easier to walk with Jesus in your life then live without Him. I know from reading the Bible not to make God mad at you!
If you aren’t walking with Jesus, go find Him on the path, He is waiting there for you to walk with Him the rest of your life both here and in Heaven. God dearly loves His people and cares for them. Even the Jews, God’s beloved people, will find favor with God again, read the Bible it’s in there.
All glory to God
His humble servant Lee M Buchanan