“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)
Our son, Scott was a career US Coast Guardsman. He told me that they have a motto that says, “we have to go but we don’t have to come back.” People have jobs with great risks and they still accept that. Jesus begins to teach his disciples what lies ahead — that he must suffer and be killed and then rise again — and Peter finds this mission to be harsher than expected.
Jesus also begins to teach what it means to follow him. It is not about adopting a set of theological statements, signing a membership contract, or living by a moral code — although those can be good things. It is about sharing the good news that Jesus is Lord and is the only way to salvation. It’s about knowing that this path can be dangerous — and doing it anyway.
In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that a disciple focuses only on Jesus and not “the road which is too hard for us … He leads the way; keep close to him.”
In the Jewish tradition of following a rabbi (teacher) and going everywhere he went, the saying was “May you be covered in his dust.” That’s the effect of spiritual tailgating!
As disciples, we are called to walk the challenging path of discipleship. And Jesus will always be right there with us.
Lord Jesus, thank you for all you have done for us. Strengthen us to follow you faithfully, knowing you are always with us. Amen.