Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Jesus, in these few words, tells us what it means to be one of His disciples. Three things: self-denial, enduring hardship and being faithful.
“Deny himself” or self-denial. It means saying no. One cannot follow Christ without the willingness to say “no” to other things or people. It is akin to repentance; turning away from things that have nothing to do with exalting Christ. Self-denial is a willingness to say no to self in order to live for another. It is what Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me…” Saying “no” to self means we will have to say “no” to things that we might consider to be morally neutral. Like saying “no” to a car that I can afford for a less expensive car because I desire to give more to God. It could mean saying “no” to a job that is “good” but requires me to miss the Lord’s Day. It could mean saying “no” to sports because they are scheduled during a time God wants me to be with my family.
“Take up your cross” means enduring the hardships that come with following Christ. Saying “no” to the very things the world says “yes” to will not always be easy or convenient. However, the issue remains, how much do I really want to be Jesus’ disciple? To what degree am I willing to follow Him? Or, is He my first and foremost love, and do I love Him above all else?
“Daily” means consistency and faithfulness one day at a time. It is what Romans 12:1 says, “to present yourselves as a living sacrifice”. Being a “living sacrifice” means you never cease being an offering to God.
Putting it all together, Jesus is telling His disciples if you want to follow Me then you will need to be dedicated wholeheartedly and without any reserve to My glory.
Our Father in Heaven, today, give me the love and courage to say “no” when You want me to, even to those things that are not inherently bad but are of no value to Christ, and the grace to endure the hardships that come from a world that does not understand. And Father, knowing it’s for your Son, make this my joy for all the world to see. Amen.
friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and
all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties
you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no
human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with
heaven, if Christ were not there?”