And he said to all “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Luke 9:23-24
These are the words of Jesus recorded in the gospel of Luke right after He explains to His disciples He would suffer, face rejection, die, and be raised to life on the third day.
Jesus spoke this knowing full well the torture to come. Consider for a moment Jesus enthroned as King, who in great humility set aside His heavenly Kingship and all the glorious rights entitled to Him. Instead, He denied himself for our sake, endured the worst of all torture, that is death on a cross, and gave His life. This was the example of Jesus Christ, so the beneficiaries of his great sacrifice—you and me—would have access to His heavenly Kingship by the work of His blood. He spoke this verse, and then perfectly modeled denial and self sacrifice for us!
When we read this verse today it can lose its potency. For some the imagery of the cross is simply a piece of jewelry or a meanless trinket dangled from a rearview mirror with hopes of protection from unforeseen danger. When these words left the lips of Jesus the warning to the disciples, was crystal clear: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, pick up his cross daily and follow me.”
What does this verse mean for the follower of Jesus Christ today? Simply this: Stop pursuing your own desires, recognize your responsibility in Christ, be ready for suffering, endure through trial, consider the weight of sin, and follow the One who did it perfectly. How often do we beg the Lord to remove trial and suffering, when Jesus clearly said, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” Matthew 16:25? Consider the unbelievable weight of all man’s sin, your sin, on the shoulders of Jesus Christ as He bled and died, bearing the wrath of God so we might experience eternal glory beyond all compare. Have you experienced suffering in your walk with Lord?
Loved ones, Jesus tells us to deny ourselves. Consider the price that was paid for your life. Consider the eternal wrath of God, and the consequences for your sin that you have been spared from. Consider the pain and suffering endured by your Saviour. Was all this done so we can enjoy wealth and an easy life? Was it so we could be spared from trial and suffering here on earth? O that we would wake from this slumber of easy living. Following Christ means denial of self! Pick up you your cross every single day and follow the One who gave His life for yours.
We must look beyond our own selfish desires and in love be broken for those who are lost and without hope in this world. We must tell them of the marvelous eternal treasure we have as the sons and daughters of the Most High. Learn to speak of the death of Jesus Christ and the eternal gift of salvation to those who would call on His name. Discover what it means to sacrifice for the sake of the good news of Jesus Christ. Be convinced that nothing else in this world is worth living for, and know the fullness of joy only found in Him!
Pray today that God would open your eyes to what you can do for Him. And reflect this week on the amazing sacrifice He made just for you.
This week we encourage you to share your prayer requests with our church family and worship with us in an attitude of reflection and reverence for the cross. Click the buttons below to see the prayer wall or listen to our Holy Week playlist.