Scan through Pinterest, Instagram, or the merchandise available at most Christian retailers, and you will eventually find a collection of peaceful nature scenes overlaid with encouraging Scriptures. They’re popular choices for many living room walls and desktop backgrounds. I’ve bought a few myself. Most seem to say that if you follow Jesus you will find peace, tranquility, and happiness. But is that the whole story?
Even a casual study of Jesus and His followers reveals lives that were far from peaceful. Trouble and violence followed them everywhere. They were run out of towns, stoned, beaten, and imprisoned. Jesus was eventually killed and so were most of His early followers.
How is it that the Bible can promise life, when the experiences of many Christians seem to be so different?
When Jesus first told His disciples that they needed to take up their cross and follow Him, it might have been easy for them to imagine Him speaking in metaphor. That is, until they saw Him actually picking up a cross and marching off to His death. At that point, it was hard to deny the severity of their call.
Jesus was serious. To follow Him, they would need to be all in. They would need to be willing to give up everything. It’s no wonder those disciples initially ran away and hid. I would probably have done the same.
A message of sacrifice probably wouldn’t sell well, plastered on a poster or bumper sticker. Most of us, if we’re honest, want just enough Jesus to get the benefits, but not so much that we feel the cost. Yet is it really possible to get one without the other?
Jesus warned His disciples, saying, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
In this plan, we will examine some scenes from the life of Jesus and take a closer look at the path that He walked, the dangerous, gritty path of true submission and sacrifice. Our journey will begin in the very place most of us try to avoid—the wilderness—and end with the joy of the Resurrection.
What do you think it means to try to save your life?
What does it mean to find your life?