Power Verses: Matthew 16:24-26
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny Himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
The Daily Diet…
This is the call of discipleship. The prediction here is not one of an easy life once we turn to Jesus. Our culture is caught up with the opposite of denying self and dying to self. Most people champion all of the “self’s”:
Self gratification, self determination, self esteem, self satisfying, self actualizing…the list goes on. We even have “selfie sticks,” to get better pictures of ourselves. But the Gospel calls us to something quite different, as Jesus described here.
Picture instead the words self denial and self sacrificing. That’s what Jesus calls us to. This is life on the narrow road. Jesus has many promises for those who follow Him, including hope, peace and joy. He promises that if we seek His kingdom first He will take care of all our needs. But He also promises that those who follow Him will suffer because of His name.
Jesus didn’t hide the tough part of following Him. In fact, He told it right away to the rich young ruler in Luke 18: “Go sell all that you have.” In Luke 9:57-60 someone came and said “I will follow you wherever You go.” Instead of Jesus saying, “Great, I can use as many people as possible to get the word out,” He said “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay HIs head.” He told another, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Jesus would tell us the same thing today. He bids us to come and die. If we purpose to be like Jesus, that means that He suffered and so will we. This life of taking up our cross looks different from person to person, depending on God’s individual call on lives. The early Christians knew that it meant death, as the cross and beheading were realities for those who preached in the name of Jesus. In countries where it is illegal to be a Christian or have a Bible, taking up the cross means being willing to suffer and to die for Jesus.
For us, dying to self can look like being the one that listens instead of talking all of the time, or giving up time and energy to serve in some way. It means saying ‘no’ to self and ‘yes’ to God and being willing to go where He wants you to go, regardless of the cost. Are you ready to die?