24-26Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?
Jesus has spent endless days answering the accusations of the Pharisees - men who just plain did not accept him as Messiah. They were so consumed by all their rules - Jesus was consumed with the fact that access to God is not with keeping rules, but in knowing Christ. They pushed away from him - he pulled those who were open to his teaching near.
Jesus has just finished asking his disciples who they REALLY think he is. They answer with the "pat" answers, the easy answers - well, people say you might be John the Baptizer, Elijah or Jeremiah. He asks them to declare who THEY think he is - one lone disciple spoke up - Peter. He declares with a certainty - you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
To that revelation Jesus adds this teaching we have before us today. Anytime there is a revelation of the person of Christ, hearts are opened. Anyone receiving that revelation comes into a place of discipleship. Jesus tells them - anyone who intends to come with me must let me lead. This is the stumbling point for many - letting Christ lead. We want the controls - we find it difficult to not pursue salvation on our own terms.
Jesus reminds us that it is not a self-help pursuit - discipleship is sitting at the feet of the Teacher, learning of him, allowing him to direct our path, and enjoying the privileges of his presence. People of the day in which Jesus was teaching would have understood this concept better than we do today. We are not accustomed to having to wait for the Rabbi to circulate into our townships in order to get the teaching of the Word - to become educated, learned, and wise. Today, we can simply turn on our computers, seek out innumerable teachings online and find ourselves immersed in all that promises the answers to life's woes.
The message of Christmas is found in a person, not in the day itself. It is Christ that we celebrate today. It is his GIFT of sacrificial love that we embrace with open arms. Jesus asks us to answer one important question today - who do YOU say that I am? If you call him Savior, rejoice! If you have yet to call him Savior, reach out to him today. He is waiting to be invited into your life.
Remember this: Jesus not only wants to lead our lives - he came so that he could lead our lives. When we submit to him, we are allowing the fullness of the gift of his sacrificial love to be at work in our lives exactly as he intended. Open up to his leading - control is best when it is submitted to one who knows how to perfectly orchestrate!