What All Christians Are Ultimately Called to Do

Posted on May 7, 2019

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By David Ettinger

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The Ultimate Requirement
As a Christian, God expects you to order your life.

First, you should live in expectancy of Christ’s return as Jesus tells you to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Second, you should treat all people with honor and dignity as Jesus instructs you to, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). Third, you are to pray to God daily as Jesus urges you to “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). And, of course, there are many more ways in which you are to order your life as a child of the King.

However, Jesus has one ultimate requirement for you: that you be willing to die for Him. Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t; it is clearly presented in Scripture. Why would Jesus demand this? Because living with the willingness to die for Jesus is the ultimate display of love for Him.

The Key Verse
One day, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do the crowds say I am?” (Luke 9:18). After receiving a consensus of opinions, he asked them, “Who do you say I am?” (v. 20). Peter rightly replies, “God’s Messiah.”

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Concerned the disciples would nurture visions of grandeur because of this momentous truth, Jesus kept their feet bolted to the soil when He revealed, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (v. 22). It was Jesus telling His stunned followers, “You believe that my Messiahship involves creating a new kingdom with Me on the throne. This will happen one day, but not yet. For now, I have come on a different mission, and in order to fulfill it, I must die.”

The disciples could not have understood what Jesus was telling them at the time, including the revelation regarding His resurrection. All they heard was, “The Son of Man must … be killed.” How their heads must have been reeling! How their emotions must have been warring within them! How their hopes must have been dashed!

And if all this were not enough, Jesus unleashed this bombshell: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (v. 23).

What it Means
Over the years, Christians have interpreted this verse to include any burden an individual is living with, from physical ailment, to unsaved loved ones, to difficult life situations. This is incorrect, as the context clearly shows.

Jesus lived during Rome’s occupation of Israel. The Romans’ primary form of execution was crucifixion – being nailed to a cross to slowly die, generally by asphyxiation. The condemned man carried his cross through the streets to the place of crucifixion, and then was nailed to it.

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This is what Jesus would be doing very soon. When Jesus told His disciples – and ultimately all of His believers – “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” – He was not being symbolic or employing hyperbole; He was being precise. As everyone in the first century A.D. would have rightly interpreted, Jesus was speaking specifically of death. His call for all of us to “take up our cross” is a call to be willing to die for Jesus if this be His will. To be a disciple of Jesus is synonymous to be willing to die for Him.

A Permanent Requirement
This requirement is echoed in Matthew 16:24 and Mark 8:34, but only in Luke 9:23 is the word “daily” included. Why? Though a person can only die once, Jesus is more concerned with the willingness of His followers to do so. Jesus wants believers to wake up every morning and say, “Lord, I love You more than life itself. In fact, I love You so much that if You desire that I honor You by dying for You, then I will gladly do so. Lord, my life is Yours in every way; do this day with me according to Your will.”

For the vast majority of Christians, physically dying specifically for Jesus is not the norm, though the instances of martyrdom over the centuries number in the millions. What is so crucial to Jesus is that you are willing to do so on a daily basis. The true willingness to die for Jesus is what all Christians are ultimately called to do.

Are you at a place where you are willing to die for Jesus today? Neither am I. But knowing that this is what Jesus calls us to, let us be praying for God’s will to be done in our lives – regardless of that will may be.

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