Matthew 16:24 (NKJV) Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
What is “the cross”? It is the cost of following Christ. It is the sacrifice required to make Him Lord. In Biblical times, the Romans required the condemned prisoner to carry his cross to the place of execution. The cross was the instrument of death that meant the end of the prisoner’s life.
Likewise, “the cross” is the end of OUR life. It puts to death our old life. We take up our cross and follow Jesus to our death… then into new life. The cross is rough and heavy. You will not choose to carry a cross if you:
- are seeking comfort or pleasure
- needing to do something else that is more important
- have other plans that take priority
- are cowardly or worried about your reputation
Taking up your cross means giving up control of your life. It means forsaking any personal agendas or plans you have carefully formulated. It involves a single focus of taking on the weight and burden of the cross, leaving no time or opportunity to think of what you may want for yourself.
You won’t carry the cross if you’re worried about what it will do to you. You can’t take up a cross if your personal ambitions are in play. Something has to go… you either have to drop the cross, or drop your self interest.
Romans 12:1 (NKJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Is your life a sacrifice? A sacrifice gives up its rights; its desires; its plans; its choices. A sacrifice offers itself freely to the fire and has no purpose other than being given up and consumed for another’s benefit.
John 10:27 (NKJV) My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
If we know Christ, we will hear His voice calling us. And He is saying “take up your cross”… surrender all; sacrifice your life for mine. Follow Me. That doesn’t leave room for following your own desires.
Luke 16:13 (NKJV) “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
You have no choice but to deny either yourself or Christ; you cannot serve two masters. Serving yourself even partially is forsaking Christ. Pick one, you can’t have it both ways.
Most people have just enough of the world in them
to make them miserable at church,
and just enough church in them to make
them miserable out in the world.
Revelation 3:16 (NKJV) So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
“The cross” is an all or nothing proposition. If we “sorta” take up the cross, we cannot follow because you can’t keep up if you are constantly putting it down and picking it up. We are not worthy to follow if we do not dedicate and commit our whole being to it.
No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne;
no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.
Matthew 10:38-39 (NKJV) And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
Have you taken up your cross for good? Or do you put it down occasionally in order to pursue your own interests?
Father, let us choose to take up the cross and deny ourselves. Help us to understand that we can’t have it both ways. Reveal in us areas of our lives that we have not fully denied and threaten our grip on the cross. May we be hot, and not lukewarm or cold, in our desire to follow Your Son. Amen.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?