Thanks to Pastor Mark Warda for writing today’s post. Pastor Mark is the husband of Kyra, father of Phillip and Melody, Creative Arts Pastor at Woodland Church, and the most foodie I’ve ever known.
When I think of the word fasting, I think of giving something up such as food. When I think of the word, direction, I think of following something such as a map.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24, NLT)
When Jesus says, “follow me,” the Greek word “follow” literally means “to follow or accompany someone who takes the lead in determining direction.” (Louw and Nida, Greek-English Lexicon). The point is that if you want direction for your life, follow Jesus!
Second, although this passage is not a reference to fasting, Jesus is teaching about submission. The NIV renders this verse, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” To “take up our cross” is a metaphor for submission to God’s will. When we deny ourselves, we are submitting to God’s will and giving up our own way.
Thus, when we fast, we deny ourselves of food (or something else) and it’s in giving something up that we’re reminded of our submission in order to follow Jesus for direction in our lives. Peterson translates it best, “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.” (Matthew 16:24, The Message)
Are you lacking direction? Are you suffering? Are you trying to help yourself your own way? Remember, to follow Jesus means to let Him lead.