“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)
What a perfect verse to meditate and pray over this morning as millions and millions of Christians gather virtually together in their homes (and possibly in places of worship) to worship together on Sunday. While the coronavirus may be putting a hamper on normal day-to-day activities, it should never put a hamper on our worship!
So what does it mean to take up your cross daily and follow Jesus? It may not mean what you think.
Many people may think that “taking up your cross” simply means to carry your burdens. When I first became Christian and I heard this verse, it was certainly presented that way to me. When speaking of burdens or trials in life, I heard many people say things like “It’s my cross to bear.”
This is not what Jesus was referring to when He said “cross” though. While Jesus did say we “will have tribulation/trials/trouble” in this life (John 16:33), He was not referencing the cross that He carried to Golgotha and was nailed to on Calvary. That would be a massive discredit to what the cross actually represented. The cross was a Roman torture device that only lead to one thing– death.
Jesus is saying that whoever would follow Him must die to themselves. They must be willing to give up everything– their dreams, desires, and pursuits, for the cause of Christ (Gal. 5:24). It is the call to give up your earthly life, in order to gain eternal life (Gal. 2:20, Phil. 1:21, Col. 3:3).
This is not an easy call, but that’s also why the reward is unparalleled. When you are willing to die to self, God will replace your selfish desires with desires from His own heart. God will give you a life of purpose and fulfillment beyond what you could have imagined. You will walk in relationship with your Father in heaven and inherit your place in His eternal kingdom that extends beyond the boundaries of this world (Rom. 6:8, 2 Tim. 2:11, Rom. 8:13). And all of it will bring glory and honor to Your Creator as it was meant to be.
As you gather to worship God this Sunday, whether you are at home or elsewhere, remember that Jesus is telling us that we must take up our cross and follow Him. It’s not merely attending church services and living a decent life, but rather, it’s giving up your life to be His disciple. In verse 25, He says, “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”
Are you willing to give up everything to take up your cross and follow Christ? My prayer for you this morning is that you are, for whoever loses it for His sake will save it!