As the crowd gathered to listen to Jesus there was a distinguishment between those that attended. Jesus was able to see into the hearts of the followers and began to speak. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34) Not everyone, at that moment, knew what Jesus meant by “take up his cross” or even what it meant to be a true disciple of Christ. These words of Christ paint a glorious picture of the gospel but also what it means for us as Christians.
Most of us today have a hard time being a disciple of Christ. We spend the majority of our time consumed with our own agendas and pleasures, leaving God in the back seat or a few passing moments in time. We want to make our own decisions and be the leaders of our own fate. Christ starts by giving an invitation to those listening “if anyone wishes to come after Me“. He opens the door for anyone who wants and is willing to believe, to follow and grow. Then He says to “Deny oneself, take up his cross and follow me“, which refers to following the Will of God and not our own. It is saying that we are to die to our old sinful man and become a new man in Christ. This self-denial is not about saying no to the pleasures of our lives but rather being grafted into the vine, which is God. It is about suffering for the sake of the gospel or for Christ’s sake.
Our redemption is not based upon our denial or willingness to sacrifice, but in Christ’s sacrifice. It is in Christ alone, faith alone, and His amazing work within and through us, so that we can live and dwell in a relationship with Him. It is about belonging and becoming a part of His kingdom. In being a disciple, we now live under the Lordship of Christ to listen, to follow, to be obedient and to learn to trust in His sufficiency and will for our lives each day.
The cross today, and to the Jewish crowd at that time, is a bloody, painful, messy, picture of death. In this process, it could be messy, filled with suffering and most likely uncomfortable at times, but to see God’s fruition and fulfillment through your life is the ultimate goal.
Jordan Snedeker (May 2016)