Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. Matthew 16:24-25
The “Pitch” we often hear:
Come to Jesus so He can bless you and take away your troubles.
So often, that is the expectation.
But the blessings are often disguised.
And your troubles He will use as compost for you to grow and be fruitful.
If denying yourself is the first thing Jesus mentioned, then it must be paramount to begin living the abundant life He promised.
Cross To Bear
Growing up in the Bible belt, many people have heard of having a cross to bear. However, it is usually taken out of context.
They will talk about their difficult spouse, lousy job, ex-spouse, etc.;
Your spouse is not a cross to bear. Other people are never a cross to bear.
They are opportunities to love!
Imagine 2000 years ago and seeing Jesus carrying His cross toward Golgotha.
The people lining the streets weren't cheering Jesus on.
They were jeering Him down!
He was abused from every side.
He knew full well where and how this crawl was going to end.
That is what picking up your cross will look like. It will end in death. Along the way, you will live undefended like Christ.
Your life will not be your own.
But you will know abundant life because you follow the Giver of Life, Jesus.
Why is freedom found in denying yourself?
How have you viewed the command to "carry your cross"?
Describe how you may now view your past perspectives through a holy definition of carrying your cross.
What keeps you from following Jesus, as He asks?
Lord, the only life we will ever have or know is You. May we finally be filled with Truth that we may glorify You with our lives. Amen