Photo courtesy of LoveSingapore
How will you die?
You probably don’t want to know. But Peter is told whether he likes it or not. In a prophetic parable, Jesus predicts his martyrdom by crucifixion (John 21:18-19).
Young Peter was his own master. Free and independent. Self-made and self-determined. He dressed himself and went wherever he pleased. Imagine, if you will, the modern adolescent scooting around in torn jeans, nose rings and purple hair.
The demands of discipleship increase with every step, through thick and thin.
Old Peter, however, will lose control of his wardrobe and itinerary. He will stretch out his hands and be fastened to a cross.
In the literature of the day, stretch out your hands was a metaphor for crucifixion, the most cruel and inhumane punishment known to the ancient world. The victim’s arms were stretched out and bound to the short beam of the cross that was detached from the long beam. He was then made to carry that weight to the last place he wanted to go, the execution site. There the vertical beam of the cross stood waiting for its counterpart, victim attached.
This is the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.
Peter’s journey from Galilee to Golgotha presents us with a compelling pattern of discipleship. At first it’s all adventure and discovery, miracles and manifestations, weddings, banquets, and beach picnics.
But along the way things get scary. The message of the Kingdom threatens the powers that be. Opposition arises. Screws are tightened. Conditions are imposed. There is a gradual transition from “adolescent” discipleship, with all its ego and emo, to complete and undivided allegiance to Jesus.
Dying to self is a living martyrdom – day by day, moment by moment.
Thus the demands of discipleship increase with every step, through thick and thin, fear and failure, mission and martyrdom.
There are many crossroads in discipleship. But they all lead to one place, the last place you want to go: The Cross.
You may not die a martyr’s death. But you are called to live a martyr’s life: Deny yourself, take up your cross, follow Jesus until you are totally dead to self.
When Christ calls a man, He bids him, ‘Come and die’ (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).
How will you die?
Discipleship is a lifelong journey of obedience to Christ which transforms a person’s values and behaviour, and results in ministry in one’s home, church, and the world (Barry Sneed).
- Are you in the adventure stage of discipleship? Enjoy it while it lasts. Blessed are you, provided you keep going and read the signs so that you’ll know when it’s time to go deeper.
Pray: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for choosing me and calling me to be Your disciple. I take up Your easy yoke and light burden. I walk with You on the hard road that leads to life. By Your grace, I’m ready to put away childish things. I’m eager to grow up as a mature, cross-bearing disciple of Yours, following the example of Your servant Peter.
- Are you in the advanced stage of discipleship? Are you dead yet? Don’t be so sure. Paul said: I die every day (1 Corinthians 15:31). Physical martyrdom is once and for all. Dying to self is a living martyrdom – day by day, moment by moment. It’s not only about crucifying the flesh. It’s not only about dying to sin and selfishness.
It also requires giving up some pure and priceless things to follow Jesus. Like the woman with the alabaster jar of ointment (Matthew 26:6-13).
Besides giving up your sins, don’t you have something precious that you can offer to Jesus? Your surplus? Your time?
What about idiosyncrasies and personal preferences that need to be sacrificed for the common good? Or intellectual property that others steal from you and post or publish as their own? Or anything else taken from you unjustly and you have to bear the loss in silent pain for love’s sake?
Dear Disciple of Jesus, will you simply let go? Surrender everything to Him today: Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, and broken toys. Give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus. And He will turn your sorrows into joy (Johnson and Benson).
- Are you growing weary in discipleship? Brace yourself. The road is longer than you think. It would be some 30 years before Peter stretched out his hands to take up his cross and literally die for Jesus. In the meantime, he had to live for Jesus. There was much work to be done.
Yes, sometimes we do grow weary in well-doing. There are seasons when it would seem so easy just to retreat, resign, or retire. Throw in the towel. Game over! Like Elijah sulking under the broom tree, wishing to die (1 Kings 19:4).
Perhaps you are there today. Don’t give up. Catch your breath and re-orient. Your race is not over yet. Get your bearings. Pace yourself. Prepare for the next lap. The question is not just: How will you die? But How will you live?
Pray now. In your own words, commit yourself to follow Peter as he followed Jesus – all the way. May God be glorified by your life and by your death.
Breathe a prayer for others as names and faces come to mind.
Read the devotional from Day 30, July 30: Career disciple here.
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