34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
As the new year began, I have had a few conversations with friends about joining fitness challenges, bible reading plan accountability groups, etc. Sometimes we end up signing up for things without counting the cost or without fully knowing what it would require. The reason might be on our part (“jump first, ask later” kind of attitude) or from the part of the organizers, where they don’t disclose the terms openly or fully.
Jesus’ words in today’s passage is very upfront about the cost of discipleship:
– “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves”: here, to deny in Greek means to disown, repudiate, disregard. In this context it means to disregard their self-centeredness and self interest to serve a higher purpose.
– “take up their cross and follow me”: The Roman audience knew well what that meant. Carrying of the cross preceded crucifixion and death, a well-known form of punishment at that time, a cost that Jesus himself had to bare later on.
In verse 35 we read that the purpose of our willingness to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him is not to lose everything or to embrace suffering because we have a twisted idea of punishing ourselves, but to gain the fullness of life in Him.
Has comfort become a giant for you, to the point that it stops you from fully embracing God’s will and purpose for your life? Take some time to ask Him to search your heart.
“People who are obsessed with Jesus aren’t consumed with their personal safety and comfort above else. Obsessed people care more about God’s kingdom coming to this earth than their own lives being shielded from pain or distress.” – Francis Chan
Thoughts for the day
- What does this passage tell you about God or Jesus
- What do you feel God is telling you through this passage
- How will you respond/apply God’s Word today?
- Whom will you share with today’s passage or takeaway?
“I thank you, Lord, for Your beautiful, multicultural, intergenerational family. Revive and sanctify us once again we pray. Forgive our many sins and make us holy. Set our hearts on fire again with the good news of Your gospel.”