Article By Rizza Joy Ruzgal
February 26, 2018
When Jesus called the first disciples, He said unto them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Twenty-four chapters later in the book of Matthew, Jesus told them, "Go and make disciples of all nations..." What happens in between is the amazing ministry of Jesus Christ, His life, His crucifixion and death, His burial and resurrection.
Desiring to become a fisher of men demands something to begin with: Follow Jesus. But what does it really take to follow Jesus? In Matthew 16:24 (also Luke 9:23) Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." This calls for absolute surrender. It costs absolute surrender.
Denying one's self is already hard enough for someone who is so attached to the world and to what the world can offer him. But Jesus gives us something to seriously consider, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" Come to think of it, what could we trade in exchange for our soul?
Then Jesus compels the aspirant follower to take up his own cross daily. For the longest time, the phrase "take up the/your cross" just sends me into an imagery of bloody thorn-crowned men carrying wooden cross, almost dragging themselves under the heat of the sun. That's the literal depiction I thought, and oh, there's another side -- take up your cross, carry the weight of the portion of the world entrusted upon you, bear your problems, etcetera, and that's it. But history tells us that in ancient times, encountering someone carrying a solid wooden bar (only the horizontal log of the cross since the vertical one is already waiting at where the crucifixion will take place) on his shoulders means seeing that person alive for the last time. So this is actually a point of no return. Take up your cross, Jesus said, daily. Deny yourself and take up your cross, there's no turning back. And about this, again what did He tell us? "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." This is the sweetest surrender: being a slave of the Lord Himself.
So we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. We must follow Him for He does not only know the way, He is THE only one way (John 14:6). It is the truth and our view of that does not, in any way, alter its truthfulness. Any other way leads to destruction. And, perishing is a no laughing matter.
Furthermore, it's really amazing that the calling "Come, follow me" and the sending "Go" are bridged by none other than the cross. It will always be Jesus. We begin by following Christ, and we carry on by abiding in Christ, by God's sustaining grace. I believe the apostle Paul succinctly expressed this being done with the world and of absolute surrender, a must for us who yearns to fish men for Jesus, in Galatians 2:20,
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
Ain't there yet, not even close and it is only by God's grace that it may come to perfection. See, when a follower takes up his own cross and all is said and done, and he fished for men and realized at the end of the day that he has fallen short of God's glory again, here is Jesus Christ at the center, shining His light upon his follower. Here is Jesus telling us to fix our eyes and ears and heart and our all to Him. There He is humbling us and reminding us that at our weakest, He is greatest. When our attempts fail, we gaze at His Cross and we are reminded of that glorious moment when He had won the battle for us, when the legal demand of our debts was cancelled, when our sins were imputed upon Him and nailed on the cross, when His righteousness was imputed upon us, undeserving sinners. Sinners who are purified by His blood, called unto holiness and sent to make disciples, sent to share His good news of salvation.#
About the guest contributor:
Rizza is a Math major and is currently wading through her doctoral thesis. Aside from her studies and part-time tutoring, she also enjoys reading, cooking, and organizing fellowships with various people in their church.