Jesus’ Commentary On Christianity: Part 3
There are many excuses unbelievers offer as to why they don’t want to follow Christ. One argument I’ve heard dozens of times (I even argued this myself in the past) is “Just think about all the crimes in history done in the name of Christianity…” People attempt to cite numerous examples such as the Inquisition to support their case. This 12th and 13th century movement, led by the Catholic Church resulted in the brutal torture of numerous so-called “heretics.” On May 15, 1252 Pope Innocent IV issued an official Papal Bull authorizing Catholic authorities to bind the hands alleged “heretics” behind their backs and suspend them from their wrists; resulting in painful join dislocation of the upper body. Sometimes weights were added to their legs in order to dislocate the lower body as well. The unbeliever’s argument thus follows: “Why would I want to join some religion that has caused so much evil in the world?” The fatal flaw in this line of reasoning is that it fails to answer the question, “Who does Jesus say is a true Christian, and what does Jesus say they’ll look like?”
“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)
Jesus here says that Christianity is NOT about you! In fact, Christianity is so far on the opposite end of the spectrum that it is impossible to follow Jesus while “you” are still in the picture. Jesus gives three imperative commands which must all be in place for “anyone” to come after Him: We must 1.) deny ourselves; 2.) crucify ourselves; 3.) follow Him. This week we’re going to look at the final command Jesus gives to those who want to be His followers.
After denying and crucifying ourselves Jesus commands us to follow Him. There are so many people who give themselves the name “Christian” but they refuse to stay behind Jesus. Many religious groups/people try to make Jesus their side-kick, as if His ideas are on an equal level with theirs. Some (like those involved in the Inquisition) are bold enough to put Jesus completely behind them as they claim to work in the name of Christianity. However, Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23 clearly demonstrate that we cannot be a Christian unless we’re following behind Him exactly in His footsteps and teachings.
There is a great temptation to make Christianity all about going where we want to go. Jesus is laying down the law that if we want the salvation only He can offer then we have to get behind Him and follow what He has to say. We are not allowed to follow what we think a religious person should do. We are not allowed to follow our doctrines or our creeds. Jesus is teaching us here about what true discipleship requires. If we try to go somewhere He hasn’t given us permission then we can’t be His disciple (cf. Romans 10:1-4).
There are a lot of views, opinions, and misgivings about Christianity. If you read 10 different commentaries you’re likely to get 10 different explanations about what true Christianity is all about. Jesus, the one true commentator on Christianity, sums it up in three basic commands: if we want to be a Christian we must 1.) deny ourselves, 2.) crucify ourselves, and 3.) follow Jesus.