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.”
Jesus had a way of making things simple. The phrase “take up his cross” had instant and vivid meaning to those who were listening to him that day. Over the next few days let’s see what is involved in “taking up your cross” and following Jesus.
Folks in that day were acutely aware of what a cross was and what it meant. It was a very public spectacle, and a common means of execution. Crucifixion was a horrible, excruciating way to die. Taking up a cross meant certain death. There was no mistaking it. Your life was over the moment the cross became your destiny.
In the same way, Jesus is leaving no doubt for the hearers of His words that once we choose to follow Him, it will cost us everything. It will cost us our plans, our resources, our time, our devotion and our desires. The cross takes all. No reserves.
- 1 Corinthians 15:31 (NKJV) I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
- We take up our cross once to determine our eternal destination but we take it up anew each day as a choice to serve God with each sunrise; to deny ourselves in favor of doing the will of the Lord.
- John 11:26 (NKJV) And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?
- We die to our self, but in Christ we live eternally. The Christian life is always an irony: we pick up an instrument of death (the cross) and it brings us eternal life. We give up our lives but gain immortal reward. We sacrifice all, but receive everything.
The whole life of a Christian should be nothing but praises and thanks to God; we should neither eat nor sleep, but eat to God and sleep to God and work to God and talk to God, do all to His glory and praise. (Richard Sibbes)
The cross means DEATH to SELF. Are you willing to pay the price? You have no choice if you want to follow Jesus:
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.
Do you understand and realize that the cross means death to “self”? Are you willing to make that sacrifice?
Lord, let us learn the true nature of following You: taking up a cross that will cost us ALL. Instill in us today a true understanding of this sacrifice and a willingness to pay the price. Be with us each day as we choose again to deny ourselves, and follow You. 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?