These are the first recorded words of Jesus to His disciples Peter and his brother Andrew in the gospel of Mark. It doesn’t seem to fit the method that we evangelicals use to present the call to salvation, or the call to follow Jesus nowadays, does it?
Perhaps there is something very important for us to learn here from the very words of Jesus. I don’t know about you, but when I was a youth and looking into becoming a Christian or finding a religion to believe in, I was looking for something that I could do in private. Something that did not involve me being very public about my faith. When I finally made the decision to turn from my sin and follow Jesus, I had come to the realization that following Jesus meant that I would need to tell others about Him; I would have to be very open about my faith to everyone! This made the decision to follow Jesus much more difficult for me! But Jesus never said the call to follow Him was an easy decision to make! He described it as “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me.”
By following Jesus His way and learning to become a fisher of people, we experience death to self, and His resurrection life by the power of His Spirit who now indwells us. We are actually being used by God to accomplish His will and His purpose to redeem the nations and bring them into His kingdom!
Unfortunately, in many cases the presentation of the gospel has become a glorified self-help program. “Jesus will help you overcome all your problems” “Jesus will help you achieve all your goals and dreams,” Jesus will make you wealthy,” “Jesus will make you become the person you have always wanted to be.” None of these self-help “gospels” are true; they are all about fulfilling self, not denying self!
Jesus’ call to follow Him is difficult; and many, once they realize the life Jesus is calling them to, decide not to follow Him. But when a person does understand, and chooses to follow, it’s the real thing! And it’s better to have five true disciples of Jesus than to have a hundred people seeking to fulfill selfish desires, but with a religious cloak to cover it.