Sometimes the smallest words have the most significance. In this passage and the next, we’ll focus on the big implications of the tiny word ‘if‘ as we continue to hear from Jesus himself what it means to be his follower.
The context of this passage is right after Peter’s monumental, first ever, confession of belief that Jesus is the king that God promised his people. But belief is only the beginning. Jesus goes on to teach what life as a believer will entail, saying, “If anyone would come after me…”
“If anyone” means that everyone is going to be held to the standard of what he says next. And if anyone doesn’t have this standard, then they are not truly following/believing Jesus. This isn’t to be needlessly harsh.
We have standards for all kinds of things like the purity of milk, the quality of gasoline, and even for telling what time it is. If anyone could make up their own standard for those things, people would get sick, their cars wouldn’t run, and either no one would be on time or everyone would be on time…all depends on your standard!
So by telling us what anyone who wants to follow Jesus must do, Jesus keeps us from dangerous double standards. These verses teach us the very basics of what believing in Jesus looks like.
And as you’ll see when you answer the following questions in your Field Notes, basic doesn’t mean easy. But when has the easy way ever changed the world?
If you’re feeling challenged then you’re on the right track! Imagine how his disciples must have felt hearing Peter proclaim the Jesus is the Christ only to be told that the Christ will die and that anyone who follows him must live like this!