Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? (Matthew 16:24–26, NIV 1984).
My Musings – The price of the ticket for passage is free (although it cost the Godhead plenty). The journey is not without peril. The destination, is worth the trip.
- Deny Oneself – To refrain from satisfying one’s own desires or needs. To put matters of The Kingdom ahead of all personal “empire building” desires or needs. Just consider all that Jesus denied Himself. Afterall, “the world and its desires [the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does] pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15–17, NIV 1984).
- Take Up One’s Cross – Today, the phrase is commonly understood to mean acceptance of some burdensome task. In first century Jerusalem, it meant much more. The scene of convicted criminals carrying their own cross to the place of execution would have been a common site. Not long after saying these things, Jesus would be carrying own cross to pay for our crimes. In his Gospel, Luke adds the word “daily,” meaning it was to be a continual process and not a one time trip. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices [take up your cross daily], holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1, NIV 1984).
- Follow Jesus – To go or come after. Follow His commands. Follow His Teaching. Follow His example. And yes, sometimes to follow Him in death proclaiming the Gospel. “But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:20–21, NIV 1984).
My Advice – Keep your eye on the prize and “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14, NIV 1984). And take heart, because while “in this world you will have trouble, [you can] take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV 1984).