“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24).
In Jesus days of the first century AD, following Christ means exactly what He meant – denying oneself and taking up his or her cross and follow Him. Even today when a person decides to follow Christ, he or she needs to remember these three points- denying oneself, taking up the cross and following Christ.
I agree, in some cultures of the world-denying, taking up the cross and follow Christ cost more than in other cultures.
[bctt tweet=”Take up your cross and follow Christ” username=”sam2017insights”] People who hear the invitation of Christ would need to make a decision and they need to count the cost of following Christ. His spouse, children, family, and friends may disown him due to his decision to follow Christ. In the US we don’t understand this concept in its real and hard sense because we are more comfortable to the claims of Christ than many other countries. However in the Middle East and other parts of the world, following Christ comes with the big and huge cost.
Following his invitation, Jesus says “if anyone would come after me,
• he must deny himself (first )
• take up his cross (second )
• follow Me (Christ)” (third)
Following Christ in this above manner means complete willingness and full surrender to Him and His call on your life. In other words, you are willing to forsake all you have and possess for Christ. Bible says Christ forsook all He had in heaven to come to this sin bound world and die for humanity’s sins. Bible says in Philippians 2:5, “although He (Jesus Christ) existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Christ’s denying Himself was complete and full for your sake.
Because Christ emptied Himself, although He existed as God in heaven to save us, Bible says in Philippains 2:9-11, “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The twelve disciples of Christ understood the meaning of their unique call. They completely surrendered their life to Christ. All the disciples ended up giving their life for His cause. Christ wants such a commitment and surrender from you. Remember the reward for surrendering your life to the Lord, by denying your goals and desires, taking up your cross (however bad that cross may look like) and following Him, cannot be compared to what you lose here on this earth. The reward will be incomparable and matchless. See life on this earth too short, but the life in heaven is endless and eternal. Jesus asked this question, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36.
Following Christ may cost dearly but the rewards are matchless and incomparable.
Frist, your decision to follow Christ can result in losing your family and friends. Following Christ often comes with division in the family between Dad and Child, Husband and wife, between brothers.
Second , decision to follow Christ can cost your own life. Remember all the twelve disciples of Christ and countless disciples of Christ over the centuries were brutally killed or suffered due to the proclamation of their faith in Christ and new Gospel message they carried.
Third, your decision for Christ can result in losing your family inheritance, wealth and material advantages. One man came to Christ and he wanted to inherit heaven but he was unwilling to follow Christ because his huge wealth was apparently a hindrance. In addition, I know several instances where parents even abandoned their children and won’t help them or provide for them because of their faith in Christ. This again normally happens in cultures where parents and families are controlled by shame culture.
Fourth, when one places his faith and trust in Christ as his savior, he could encounter severe ill-treatment, hostility, and persecution. The fight between light and darkness is turned on when you follow the light from God and heaven and refuses the darkness. John 3:19-20 gives us the verdict, “This is the verdict: Light (Christ) has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light (Christ) because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” John 1: 9-12 says Christ who came into this world is the light. Gospel and faith in Christ open up people’s eyes to the eternal truth and light and those are comfortable living apart from living God in darkness not only won’t like it but hate it. Bible says in 1 Peter 2:21, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”
Each person’s circumstances are different. Some people may end up losing more and suffering more and others may not suffer or lose much. However, the principal is the same – Christ informs you that when you decide to follow up – remember to deny your desires, your pursuits and your goals and seek after His desires, pursuits and goals. With the loving and eternal call of God comes with an opportunity to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him.
Listen the conversation between Peter and Jesus in Luke 18:28-29, “Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
Three things to remember.
Frist , Deny yourself. This means you will deny your own selfishness and goals and follow Christ’s unselfish nature and His goals for your life. For Peter, he denied his boat , fisherman job, family, home and friends and other personal interest for the sake of following Jesus. For Paul, he denied his high reputation and honor in the Jewish community to follow Christ.
Secondly, take up your cross. Whatever painful and bad that cross may look like. Jesus took His cross to fulfill God’s plan for His life. God’s plan for Jesus was to die for our sins because Jesus Christ is the son of God and was sinless and He was the only person who could pay for all of our sins and make us free from the bondage of Satan and sin. Likewise Christ is asking you to carry your cross that the Lord designed for you to fulfill His plan for your life. Don’t try to avoid that cross or neglect it but carry it all the way to the end of your life to fulfill your God’s designed purpose for your life. The cross may look shameful for you, but the same cross that is shameful or detestable for you is the cross that God is going to use to bring Glory to His name. So take up your cross.
Thirdly, by taking your cross, you follow Christ. You be like little Jesus Christ to others like the original 12 disciples and several other faithful followers who changed the world for Him. Follow him wherever he leads you and testify Him in your daily life. You should have only main goal- to follow Christ all the way to end of your life. Nothing else is more important to you because you were called and laid hold by Christ Jesus, with a heavenly calling to lead many to God and heaven. Remember we discussed above- He suffered and gave us an example to follow His steps.
Your personal cross may result in suffering and even death because God called you in and through Christ for a higher and heavenly purpose. On the contrary your cross may not give you much sufferings and death. But you should be willing to deny your desires and goals and take your cross and follow Christ all the way to the end of your life at any time. At the final outset, His purpose is to use you to bring glory to Him, you are Christ’s Ambassador who speak for Christ and says to the world on His behalf: Be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20). Do you know you re-direct many who are heading to destruction in eternal hell to eternal heaven? When you faithfully do your task that is entrusted upon you by the good Lord, incomparable and matchless rewards are waiting for you in addition to the everlasting life with God in heaven. Bible says in Daniel 12:39B), “and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”
He paid it all for you.
If you never accepted Christ as your savior, let me remind you Lord Jesus emptied Himself even to the point of death, though He was equal to God in His attributes and lived in heaven. He came down to this world and paid for the penalties of your sins on His body on the cross. You see, He denied Himself, took His cross and went all the way to end – to the cross where He paid for the sins of you and me. Jesus stated the purpose of His coming in to the world in Luke 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He died in your place, he was buried and God raised Him from the dead to forgive your sins and grant you eternal life. He was the ransom for you. Now God gave this verdict – For :whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13). Would you accept Christ as your savior today?
Please pray with me. “Lord Jesus, I accept you as my Lord and savior. I believe you died and resurrected for my sins. Please save me. Amen” .