"If anyone would come after me . . ." (Mark 8:34)
The word translated "would" in the ESV is thelo, which could mean to desire or to purpose. This second meaining could be defined like this: “to have something in mind for oneself, of purpose, resolve, will, wish, want, be ready" (BDAG, 448). Based on the context and commitment of the call, "purpose" would certainly be appropriate, if not the necessary meaning. Thus, “if anyone purposes or resolves to follow after me . . .”
Jesus is establishing that following him is a pretty serious endeavor. The first condition is that one desires and purposes to follow him. We all struggle with conflicting desires and we must decide what we want the most. We can be a friend of the world or a friend of God, not both. We can love and serve God or we can love and serve ourselves, not both. We have to make a choice. We can resolve to follow Jesus.
I pray for a great passion to follow Christ. A great fire in my heart that is greater than my desires for fleshly satisfaction. I renew my commitment today to follow Jesus. I purpose again today, with even greater understanding than when I first decided to give him my life, to follow him to the end, no matter what the cost.