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Why You Cannot Follow Jesus with Conditions

April 22, 2020

Peter took him [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke him. Mark 8:32

Something in all of us wants to place conditions on our faith and obedience. Lord, I’ll trust you, if you lead me into a satisfying life. I’ll obey you, if you pour out your blessing on my life. The problem with the “if” is that it makes the condition more important than Jesus.

The Gospels tell us about an occasion when Jesus asked Peter that great question: “Who do you say I am?” (8:29). Peter made a great confession of faith: “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God” (Mat. 16:16 NIV).

Then Jesus began to tell the disciples, in effect, “I have to go to Jerusalem where I will suffer and die on a cross.” But Peter jumped in and started to rebuke Jesus. “Never, Lord,” he said. “That will never happen to you.”

Peter wanted to set a condition. I’ll believe in you. I’ll follow you, just so long as it doesn’t involve a cross. And when it became clear that there was no way of avoiding the cross, Peter denied any association with Jesus.

But what we find in the rest of the New Testament story is an extraordinary transformation: The man who said, “No, Lord—not if it involves a cross for you,” later says, “Yes, Lord—even if it involves a cross for me.” That’s what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

Write down on paper some things you might be tempted to place as conditions on following Jesus. Now tear it up and ask God to help you offer yourself to Him in unconditional obedience.


The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the Senior Pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the President and Teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.



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