Can you believe that this is Jesus’ invitation to his followers? This is the words of the man who is at the center of the world’s largest religion! One thing is for certain: Jesus didn’t gain his followers by selling dreams or giving people false hope. Jesus was clear about what he was asking people and he did not gain followers because of some sort of power of persuasion. This might be the most unpersuasive call to discipleship that I could imagine. Come, deny yourself, take up your instrument of brutal death and, oh, by the way, you also just need to lose your life. That is not the recipe for a successful recruitment campaign. Clearly, the reason that Jesus has any followers at all is because Jesus embodied a different kind of influence … a different kind of power. 

Why didn’t the first disciples (and all of the billions since for that matter) just respond, “No way! I’m not about to do any of those things for you”? I think it is because Jesus was tapping into a deeper motivation that is embedded in all humans. It is a motivation and a power that is stronger than the desire for self-preservation and survival. Interestingly, all of Jesus’ original disciples (with the exception of Mary and a few other brave women) seemed to abandon Jesus immediately after his death. They were too afraid to be there at the cross and most of them didn’t even come near the tomb. They choose self-preservation and survival over following Jesus (and we would have probably chosen the same thing if we were in their shoes). But something happened after the resurrection. Jesus’ followers took on a new source of motivation, a new source of power. This power led them to become people who would sacrifice for others and eventually sacrifice their lives for the sake of Jesus. What was this power? It was the power of love. When they realized that Jesus’ death on the cross was a beautiful act of self-sacrifice that was done for them born out of his love for the world, they found the motivation to say “yes” to Jesus’ call. They said “yes” to denial, “yes” to carrying their cross and eventually even “yes” to death, all as a response to Jesus’ love. The power of love is stronger than the love of power and of self-preservation and of survival. The power of love is the great power that Jesus relies upon for recruiting his followers. 

Can we be people who respond to Jesus’ love in the same ways? Let’s try today to say “yes” to Jesus’ call to choose the power of love over the love of power.

By Josh Rose
Pastor of Adult Ministries

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