Jesus gave many commands and teachings during His ministry here on earth that the Bible accounts for in the Gospels. Many of those commands and teachings are very easy to take in. For example, Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). That’s sounds pretty good doesn’t it? I know in my life personally that I find myself weary of everyday life and would appreciate rest. So that commandment, teaching, promise, whatever you want to call it, sounds pretty good to me. Jesus also says, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Pretty easy to accept, right?
However, Jesus also says some things that are pretty hard to swallow. “But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). Woah, hold on a second. What did Jesus just say? Love my enemies? Pray for those who mistreat me? No, He couldn’t have said that right? I have to actually love them? I have to pray for them? As crazy or backwards that command seems to us, Jesus meant it. Jesus did not say, be nice to them or don’t be mean to your enemies. He said love them. Jesus didn’t say, wish well for those who mistreat you, He said pray for them. You may say, “There is no way I could do this, Jesus must not really understand what He’s asking.” Doesn’t He? Jesus portrayed this command no better than when He was on the cross. Jesus cried out to God while He was on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). While Jesus was being crucified, suffering the consequence for OUR SIN, He asked God to forgive those who were crucifying Him. Jesus continues to pray on our behalf, if we are maintaining a relationship with Him, for God to forgive us of our sin (Romans 8:34).
Another teaching that sounds pretty crazy to us can be found in the Sermon on the Mount. This is probably one of the most important teachings Jesus gives us. During this sermon, Jesus says, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). So I’m supposed to rejoice and be glad when I am suffering? My reward is great in heaven when I am persecuted for my faith in Christ? According to Jesus, and many other writers in the Bible, this is true. This flies completely against what the modern “Christian” message that is taught today, especially in the America. So many today want to follow Jesus, or accept Jesus, but they do not want to have to do anything that will cause them to be uncomfortable. Many want the blessing from Jesus, but do not want to suffer. Many want to reap the rewards of heaven, but don’t want to do any sowing themselves. The Bible is very clear; you reap what you sow. If you are in Christ, and are “making every effort to add to your faith” (2 Peter 1:5), then we as a believer in Jesus Christ you will have an inheritance in heaven. If you are not, you do not have that security in God.
Jesus tells us to count the cost of being His disciple. Jesus gives the illustration that if you were to sit down and build a tower, would you not sit down first and calculate whether or not you have the means and funds to build that tower? How absolutely ridiculous would it look if you started that tower, then halfway through you had to stop because you didn’t have the means to finish it? That would be foolish! That is what Jesus is saying in Luke 14:25-34. Jesus is essentially saying, “If you are going to be my disciple, you need to know what I taught, and decide in your heart whether you are going to follow through with all My commands.” When Jesus says, “whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27), He means that if you don’t share in my suffering (carry your cross) and follow me (follow my commands, live as He did, share in suffering), then you can not be His disciple.
When you pursue righteousness, you better expect to face opposition and persecution. Now, at first glance that does not sound encouraging. But Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Jesus has overcome everything (the world) by His victory on the cross. We can share in that victory by staying faithful to Jesus.
Jesus also says, “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22) Nobody likes to be disliked or likes to have hardships, but don’t be discouraged if you face trouble while pursuing God! You have a promise from God Himself that He will be with you always and you will partake with Him in heaven for standing firm until the end! (Matthew 10:22 & Matthew 28:20) Remember that God sees everything that happens to you in advance. He knows what you are going through and wouldn’t allow you to be in a situation that you couldn’t overcome. He will give you everything you need to come out victorious! “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
I want to encourage you to really count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. There are many other teachings that Jesus gave that I did not mention. Many of those commands are very easy to apply to our lives; others may be a hard to apply. But I promise you, if you devote the time to allow Jesus to come into your heart and teach you His way, you will find delight in obeying His commands. Maybe you are a new Christian and need somewhere to start reading. Maybe you aren’t a Christian at all and aren’t really sure about this whole “Jesus thing”. Take some time to read through the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Really pay attention and focus on the teachings Jesus gives His disciples. The promises Jesus gives are not full of worldly riches, comfort, and pleasure, but they are full of love, hope, and eternal life. You will face hard times in this life, but if you remain true to Jesus and follow His commands, you will be with Him forever in Heaven one day. I pray that God will speak to you and truly work His Spirit in your life everyday.
“If you love Me, you will obey My commandments”~ John 14:15