And if you do not carry your own cross and follow Me, you cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:27
When Jesus asked people to follow Him, He did not beg anyone to follow Him by offering enticing rewards such as money or material objects. Instead, He told people that it was going to be hard. He told them that they would have to give up a lot in order to follow Him. They would have to give up many of the comforts they enjoyed, and many of them would have to leave loved ones behind. Jesus wanted people to fully understand the decision they were making before they followed Him. He did not want them to have unrealistic expectations of what their lives would look like.
Many of us are feeling a gap between what we thought our lives would look like and what they are actually like. We expect that because we follow Jesus, He will not allow us to face pain. We expect Him to allow us to live comfortable lives and fix all of our problems. Then, when sickness occurs, financial problems arise, and conflict with loved ones comes up, we are shocked and troubled because we did not expect our lives to turn out the way that they have turned out. Jesus never promised any of us easy lives. Instead, He promised us that in this world, we would face trouble (John 16:33).
In Luke 14, Jesus had attracted many followers. When He saw this large crowd of people following Him, Jesus turned to the crowd and told them to "count the cost" (verse 28). He told them that they would have to leave many people and material possessions behind. They would have to carry their own crosses. The cross was a torture device used to kill criminals during Jesus' time. In other words, Jesus was telling these people that following Him might just cost them their lives. He wanted them to know what to expect when following Him.
Do you sense a gap in your life? Do you feel disappointed with how your life has turned out? Maybe you had unrealistic expectations when you started following Jesus. Maybe you have expected Jesus to bring you a life of ease, comfort, and happiness, and your life has not turned out how you expected. Instead of promising these things, Jesus taught that following Him would be costly. He promised, however, that the cost was worth it. Following Him leads to eternal life.
Have you had unrealistic expectations of what it means to follow Christ? Do you feel let down because of the struggles you are facing? Friend, Jesus did not promise a life of ease. He did, however, promise eternal life. In your journal, make a list of the promises God offers His followers. If you do not know where to start, begin with God's promises found in Matthew 11:28-29, Philippians 4:19, John 10:10, and John 16:33. Meditate on these promises throughout your day.
Read Luke 14:25-33 (NLT)
A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’
“Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.