As Jesus was preparing His disciples for the mission He sent them on, He spent a lot of time telling them of the cost of following Him. To follow Jesus, in fact, will cost us everything.
Men have long recognized the worthiness of certain people or ideals, and have been willing to sacrifice for them. In a few days, we in Canada will celebrate Remembrance Day– a tribute to those who have counted their countries, their families, their freedoms as more worthy than their own lives. Perhaps the best known words of Jesus, among soldiers, are these “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down His life for His Friends.”
The higher the ideal, the more worthy the person, the more we are willing to sacrifice. This sacrifice is a deliberate decision, made before the moment of testing, which sustains us in the moment of the test. A soldier makes this decision when he joins up, puts on the uniform, and takes the oath of allegience. The soldier who takes a grenade to save his squad already has made that decision in his being– it is an act of instinct, not a brand new idea to deliberate.
With Jesus, we come to the Most Worthy person there is, with the highest ideals there are, and thus, giving less than our all makes us unworthy of Him. He said that if we love any one– father or mother, son or daughter, more than we love Him, we are not worthy of Him. If we do not take up our cross and follow Him, we are not worthy of Him. If we cling to our lives, we will lose them; but if we give up our lives for His sake, we will find them.
If we consider again the example of a soldier, we can understand and admire such commitment. A soldier who refused to serve because of love for his family would not be worthy of honor as a soldier. If he did not deliberately put himself in danger of life and limb, if he did not display a willingness to lose his own life for his cause, he would not be worthy of honor as a soldier. And his refusal to sacrifice may eventually lead to the loss of all he held on to, if his country was overrun.
Soldiers who have put their duty above their personal lives, who are willing to lose all for their cause, discover a brotherhood, something wonderful that those of us who have not served cannot share with them.
Jesus Himself is the reward of those who have sacrificed all for Him. Those who have given up their lives for His sake receive a new life “in Christ Jesus.” They share in the brotherhood of the saints, having eternal life with Jesus Christ.