John 12:26, “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honour him.”
To follow Jesus is to go everywhere He goes, even death. This is death in a threefold sense: first, that our old selves in sin die; second, that we must literally die; and third, that we must be prepared to die for Christ’s sake.
The first sense—that we must let our old selves die—is what occurs in Baptism, as Paul describes (Romans 6). The old man within us—the old Adam—he says, dies in Christ, and we are raised in Christ to walk in a new way of life. Baptism, therefore, calls us to follow Christ to the end.
This end is the second sense, in which we all will eventually die. In Baptism, we are granted eternal life and are promised the bodily resurrection like Christ’s (Romans 6:5). In order to pass from this earthly life into eternal life, our bodies must literally die until Christ raises us from the dead and brings us into the new heavens and the new earth. Every person who enters eternal life first dies to sin and second dies in this life; there can be no eternal life without death, for we all must pay the wages of our sins (Romans 6:23). Justification by faith grants us God’s pardoning, who through Christ does not have us remain in death.
Many of us die far too early, whether due to tragedy, abortion, or Christian persecution. All of us, therefore, must be prepared and willing to die for the sake of our Lord Christ; for as Christ said, “Where I am, there will My servant be also.” Christ suffered for you and me; therefore, we must be prepared and willing to suffer likewise. Christ died on the cross for you and me; therefore, we must be prepared and willing to die for Him likewise.
To follow Jesus is to die. To be Christian is to die. God first kills us in our sin via faith and Baptism, and we all shall experience death some time in our lives before Christ raises us from the dead; and some of us may even experience martyrdom at the hands of evil for Christ’s sake. This might sound morbid to some, but even so, the Christian life is full of hope. Although we die to sin every day, although we all eventually die, and although some of us die for Christ’s sake, we all have the hope set in Jesus Christ our Lord, who brings us into life with Him, who lives and reigns with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for all eternity.