Jesus’ question, “Does this offend you?” deserves another, more specific consideration. When we take offense to the more taxing demands of following Jesus, discipleship will indeed be difficult. Nevertheless, those requirements do not go away. They do not fade into oblivion given enough time. They stand strong through the centuries, calling on all people to put Jesus first, self last, and the gospel in our hearts. The apostle Paul told the Athenians, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
Discipleship can be hard when we forget what Jesus has done and who Jesus is. He asked the question, “What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?” (John 6:62). Indeed, the writer of Hebrews amplified this very point in his opening statement:
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:1-3).
But when considered another way, Jesus’ question becomes all the more pertinent. After all, what more do people have to see to give Jesus their complete allegiance? It is a question all of us should consider. The obedience Jesus asked of the crowd that followed Him around the sea was nothing compared to the commitment He would require ultimately. Indeed, after His resurrection, He emphasized to Peter,
“Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me” (Jn. 21:18-22).
Follow Jesus. That is all that matters. And yet, there is more to it than that. People can take the simple phrase “Follow Jesus” and insert all their opinions and predispositions if they are not careful, and in the process completely distort authentic discipleship. Discipleship does not include the option of critiquing the Master, arguing with the Master, or questioning the Master’s judgment. Discipleship depends on our recognizing how much we have to learn and that only our Master can teach us. When we realize that, all of the doubts and objections we held onto so desperately disappear.
This is an excerpt from Kevin’s new book, Follow Me, available through Hopkins Publishing, Amazon.com, and for your favorite ebook reader.