Shared August 10th, 2014
“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Mark 8:34
Here’s an extended version, from Matthew 16: 24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Luke adds “daily”, “take up your cross daily” (Luke 9:23). Jesus Himself states one of the immutable laws of the kingdom of God, that: if you save your life (for whatever) you will lose it; but if you lose your life for His sake, you will find it.
Now, having read this passage, look at what someone wrote way back about following Jesus Christ (passed on to me by one of our subscribers):
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself. Jesus has many now to love his kingdom, few to carry his cross. He has many devotees of consolation, few of afflictions. He finds many to eat with him, few to fast with him. Everyone would rejoice with him: few will at all suffer for him. Many follow Jesus to the breaking of bread (Luke 24,35); few to the draught of his chalice of suffering (Matthew 20,22). Many revere his miracles; few go after the shame of his cross. Many love Jesus as long as they meet no adversity. Many praise and bless him, as long as they get from him some comfort. But let Jesus go into hiding and leave them awhile, they soon fall deep into peevishness and gloom. But those who love Jesus for Jesus and not for their own comfort, they bless him no less in utmost affliction and distress than in the heights of consolation. And if he would never give them comfort, they would still be always praising him and giving thanks. How potent is the pure love of Jesus, untainted with any selfish consideration or desire!
I wonder whom this writer is describing. Me? You? Others? Well who the cap fits, let them wear it. But something is intriguing here. What really does “deny himself mean?” Well, no one who is unwilling to deny him/herself can legitimately claim to be a disciple or follower of Jesus Christ. And by deny, the Bible is not referring to depriving yourself of a few cookies or candy or chocolate at a particular time of the year when you fastidiously hold to some religious ceremony. Denying self is a lifetime duty and requires us to give up anything that we want or seek, anything that would hinder us from doing the will of God. And note that it is Jesus Himself who is describing a true disciple. Notice: self-denial is not optional. It is a must.
And what about “take up his cross”? What does it mean? Ask yourself, “What is a cross for?” Was it just a burden to be borne? No. Far more than that, it was an instrument of death and total sacrifice. “…take up his cross” reveals the extent of one’s self denial: to the point of death, if necessary. Let me put it this way, that, the extent of desperation on the part of the penitent sinner who is aware he/she can’t save him/herself reaches the place where nothing is held back.
Now, Jesus will never ask us to do what He has never done. No siree! He bore a cross, His cross, and we must as well bear our cross if we say we love Him and that we follow Him. Is it a joy to live in the Cross of Christ? No, but we are told to count it all joy when we go through all kinds of trials and temptations (James 1). Are you bearing your cross? The first criterion is to be a born-again Christian. Are you one? To be a Christian, read the article, “Plan of Salvation,” by clicking on the following link: https://www.restoredtorestore.org/landing/
Proposed prayer: “Dear heavenly Father, I surrender to Christ my Saviour and I no longer reserve the right to do as I will but as You will. Holy Spirit, enable me to walk with You daily. I am Your bondservant so I willingly give up my freedom for slavery to You my Master because I love You. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Have a blessed week in the Lord.