“Then He said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.’” - Luke 9:23
Jesus knew what was in store for His life, and for the lives of His disciples. Armed with this knowledge, He gathered them together and dropped a bomb on them:
“Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.”
A cross? They knew what that meant. It was Roman execution of the most horrific kind. Carrying a Roman cross of death did not sound like the Kingdom they expected – it sounded like death. Did Jesus really want them to die? Does He really want us to die?
We must remember that God’s Kingdom is not of this world. His Kingdom is far more than we can see or even understand. The disciples’ true enemy was far more deadly than Roman soldiers. The real enemy lived in them and all around them. The same is true of us today. Jesus came to conquer the real enemy, sin and its firstborn, death.
Jesus spoke these words just days before He would defeat that enemy. He was teaching them to intentionally move towards death. For some Christ followers, this means physical death. Countless believers have followed in Christ’s footsteps of physical death for the sake of the Gospel. But all of His followers have to die to self.
We must die to the desire for self-glory, and for worldly respect. We must die to the desire for an easy life, and earthly wealth. But this call to die is actually a call to joy beyond imagination. The road of this earthly kingdom is paved with false promises and hidden consequences. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves the brief, shallow joys of the world so that we might experience overflowing, eternal joy.
Heavenly Father, I admit that it is hard to choose to carry my cross each and every day. I need Your grace and strength to say “no” to my own selfish desires and “yes” to your will.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Topics: Work of Christ