Deny Yourselves, Take Up the Cross and Follow – Matthew 16:24
Jesus predicting His death was a very touchy subject for the disciples. When Jesus was telling them about it, Peter disagreed and told Jesus that it will not happen to Him but Jesus rebuked Him and told Him that His concerns are of human and not the concerns of God.
When Peter disagreed about it, and Jesus rebuked him for it, it clearly shows that our wisdom and knowledge is nothing compared to God. Jesus knew that His death should happen for it is the fulfillment of the prophecy. After that, Jesus then told them that whoever wants to be His disciple will have to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him.
There are three things that Jesus mentioned as a requirement to be a disciple or a follower of Christ and it is not very easy.
First, we must deny ourselves. Denying ourselves is a very difficult task to grasp. Denying doesn’t just simply means saying ‘no’ today for a better day tomorrow, but it means a real sacrifice. Jesus is talking about real sacrifice in which we have to make. This denying of ourselves means giving up everything for Jesus. It is very hard to give up our finances, our time, our old habits, our hobbies and our whole personality for the sake of serving Him. However, Jesus asked us that in order to become His disciples, we must deny ourselves of those trivial things so that we may be able to serve Him fully without being hindered by our past. So what are Jesus asking us to deny ourselves? It is the life we have that revolves around immorality, drunkenness, corruption, drugs and the list goes on.
Second, we must take up our cross. Taking up our cross just simply means death— putting our old life (the life we deny ourselves from) into death. We must endure the unfamiliar feeling of losing our old life and living out our new life. We must carry the burden of enduring ourselves denial.
Third, we must follow Him. Now, following is not easy. After denying ourselves and taking up our cross, we must then follow Him. We must follow His examples and live our lives imitating Christ. As we deny ourselves, take up our cross, the following is also hard since it means that we have to completely follow Him without looking back at our old life and having our eyes fixed on Jesus.
After this, we will be Jesus’ true disciples and through this we will be able to disciple others in the faith of our Lord Jesus.
But what then? As we do this, we will realize that we are losing our lives while we follow Jesus but Jesus promised in the succeeding verse that whoever loses their lives for His sake will find it. Now, when we feel like we are losing ourselves, we must always remember that the only thing we lost was our OLD self and as what Jesus promised, we will find our NEW self which is now in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Therefore, in doing this, we will now have the concerns of God in our lives instead of the concerns of humans. We will be living our lives without regret as we follow Jesus and become His true disciples. We may be losing our lives, but rest assured that we will find it in Jesus. We must not see Jesus as a political Messiah just like how Peter was seeing Him, but we must see Him as the Messiah whose real purpose was to save us from our sins.
Let us deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus so we may serve Him in spirit and in truth.
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