When Jesus told His disciples that He would be taken prisoner, suffer at the hand of religious leaders, and be killed, Peter exclaimed: “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” (Matt 16:22). Scripture says Peter rebuked Jesus; the original Greek translates that Peter admonished or even forbid Jesus. However “Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (Matt 16:23). Jesus was pointing out a stumbling block that infects followers; many focus on things that concern humanity or themselves instead of that which concerns God.
Followers lose their way when their expectation of discipleship differs from Jesus’; when they anticipate earthly rewards in place of that associated with living a holy life. A life not based on conservative legalism, pious expectations or restrictive customs missing but one that allow us to experience the goodness of life God has for us. The reward of one following Christ is the blessing of happiness; the inward joy, peace of mind, contentment with life, love of all people, and hope of eternity.  However, there is a cost to following Jesus.
The disciples’ friend, leader, and messiah had been crucified. When they gathered behind locked doors, uncertain as to what was going to happen next, did they recall Jesus saying whomever wants to follow Him must deny themselves and take up their cross? Did they wonder if they were to go into the streets to be martyred? Were there concerns at the time about their future expectations and desires? When Jesus visited them shortly after His resurrection He pointed them back to God. He placed them on ministry to spread His truths to the world and lined them up with God’s concerns. He knew that with faith and the Holy Spirit, they would find the answers to His expectations for followers.
Followers must continue to ask what it takes to be a follower. However they must not avoid the questions regarding denying one’s self and the cross they must take up? The first step to following Jesus is accepting Him as saviour. Then we must seek out His teachings with the aim of following and sharing them. As followers engage in scripture reading and study, prayer, and Christian fellowship, answers to what is expected of them will become clear. As a follower’s life is transformed, holy living will be modelled. Answers to denying one’s self will be revealed as will a symbolic or literal cross and God’s blessings will help them bear those expectations.
Jesus told His followers that they will not walk alone and will be given a role model, guide, and encourager while as they seek to do God’s will. He also suggested that the journey will not be easy but it can be rewarding both in heaven and on earth. Discipleship is not a series of objectives to be achieved but a life that displays constant worship and love for God. Ask to be a follower. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your escort. Pray for a mentor or guide to share your walk with, so to keep you pointed in the right direction. Acknowledge and be thankful for the rewards of discipleship.