Blog Double Paradox of Discipleship

Double Paradox of Discipleship

By Youval Yanay

Yeshua gives us an open invitation in Matthew 16, saying anyone can come and become His disciple!” The offer contains two conditions and one double paradox; “If anyone would come after me he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (v. 24).

The paradox (seeming contradiction): “For he who wishes to save his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake will find it. For what good will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” (v. 25)

The first condition is to deny oneself. This means to let all my needs, desires, thoughts and even fears and ambitions die! To lay aside my own interests for the sake of God’s affairs. To replace our ordinary human ways with the ways of Yeshua. Yeshua left the sublime, comfortable, perfect place he was in, took on flesh and blood, and learned obedience to the point of death. As a result, His name is elevated above all names (Philippians 2:9). When we put aside our own desires we put aside the biggest obstacle that stands between us and our deepest self-fulfillment.

The second condition is “… take up his cross and follow me.” Anyone who wants to truly follow Yeshua, should adopt his same attitude – choosing the Kingdom even if it means experiencing rejection, shame and sometimes actual physical death. The self-denying disciples of Yeshua do not care about the pleasures and sufferings of this world, compared with a much greater joy. Denying myself and carrying my cross daily is the narrow road leading to life, a daily opportunity to be like Yeshua, by living within His kingdom and sacrificing myself to serve others.

None of us deserves to be saved from eternal separation from God, all believers receive this gift by grace; but Yeshua is talking about an ongoing, daily discipleship process here. In order to enter into the spiritual kingdom of God, while we live and walk here in this physical world – our intentions and actions must coincide with His.

The Double Paradox
Cruel dictators throughout history and even in modern times seem to have gained everything, yet still die alone, with their wealth and paranoia, and without peace much less a hope for eternity. Lot’s wife also demonstrated the negative consequences of preferring the world over God’s will. She was unable to leave everything behind, even though it was surrounded by sin and suffering. (Imagine what it was like to live in Sodom!)

The person who wants to “save his life” desires all the world has to offer. But Yeshua presents the only way to find our true life. He offers to free us from enslavement to the monstrous aspects of our desires and needs. He will help us find ourselves amidst the delusion and confusion of this world and attain true freedom.

Counterintuitively, the way to fulfill our deepest desires, to live a life of endless joy and peace even here, in this body, in this world… is to learn to sacrificially obey, even unto death, as we follow Yeshua into abundant life.

*Excerpts from a sermon given at our sister ministry Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv

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