(23) And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.Luke 9:23
After declaring the Gospel to them, Jesus compares the life of the true follower of Jesus to His life. He has told them that He must suffer, die, and rise again for their sins according to the scriptures. Here he says to all of the disciples “if any man will come after me”. “Come after me” has the same idea as “follow me”. Remember that the expression “follow me” was the call to discipleship in that culture. When the rabbi said “follow me” he was saying, go where I go, think like I think, live like I live, and believe what I teach. Jesus had just told them that He had to be rejected by the religious elite. He was going to suffer, die, and rise again. If His disciples were to live out what He had taught them they must be willing to suffer and die. The only way to do that is self-denial.
Isn’t it incredible that Jesus knew that He would rise again, and told His disciples that He would rise again. It seems as if the disciples completely forgot this truth later. He predicted exactly what He would do, and then He did it.
When Jesus said “take up his cross daily” we should think of it in the terms they would have thought of the expression. The cross did not yet have the redemptive beauty that we see in it now. Remember that it was an instrument of execution and torture.
Jesus was calling those who follow Him to choose the eternal over the temporary. To choose the eternal over the temporary there must be self-denial. There must be a willingness to sacrifice. Following Jesus means paying the price of discipleship. It isn’t a one-time decision. It is a daily decision to put Him first, and to be willing to suffer for His sake.
What gives us the ability to deny ourselves daily and take up our cross is the same motivation that Jesus had. The scripture says that he endured the cross “for the joy that was set before Him.” After the cross there is a resurrection. The same is true for us. It’s not self-denial with no hope of reward. No, it is self-denial that is pursuing eternal reward and honoring Christ for treasure in heaven that does not rust, does not corrupt, and cannot be taken away.
– What is keeping you from following Jesus today?