Luke 9:23 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.
Only Luke adds the word “daily.” It is simply one word, but it’s a very important one. In Roman times, you knew that a man carrying a cross outside of the city in Roman times wasn’t coming back. Yet for us, as we have a choice, and as we live in this temple of flesh, we can bring our cross back inside the city. We’re to be a living sacrifice, and yet a living sacrifice can get up off the alter, which we many times do. And so Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, admonishes and exhorts us to make a conscious decision to take up our cross, “daily” – every day of our lives. There are three parts to cross bearing we must understand if we’re going to lose our lives, and be His disciples:
- First, we must deny ourselves. Oh, this is easier said than done – because I like me. I remember playing basketball, and the tenacity and grit and endurance it took to deny a good player the ball for just two minutes – two minutes! But the hard work it took to deny him the ball was worth it, as, when we denied him what he shouldn’t have for our better interests, we did well. In our lives, likewise, it takes work to deny the flesh of covetousness, lasciviousness, bitterness, pride and a temporal value system. Yet, the value of daily denying ourselves these things that the world, flesh, and devil try to throw at us, is great!
- Secondly, we must take up our cross. This can be equally challenging. I think of my mom, who has been given a great cross to bear. I think of Pastor Wilkerson, who was given a cross to bear. I think of Paul, who was given a cross to bear. All of us have been given a cross. It may be a trial, persecution, temptation, difficult calling, or thorn in the flesh that we wish to God we could change or remove. But that cross is always for our good and God’s glory. If we will follow Him, we must be willing to take up that cross, and to drink our cup, daily.
- And lastly, we must follow Him. It’s one thing to deny ourselves. But I know athletes who deny themselves for nothing more than a trophy that will burn. It’s one thing to take up a cross. I know unsaved who have taken up their version of a cross in a monastery, or through some self-denying cause, but for naught. But for us, we know Whom we have believed, and are persuaded that He is able to keep that which He’s committed unto us against that day. And it’s Him that we follow. It’s Him we seek after. It’s Him we serve. Let us remember, daily, it’s Jesus Christ we’re to follow. I’m not doing this for my dad, or man’s recognition. Because when the cross gets heavy, that’s not enough. But when we keep our eyes on Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith, then denying ourselves, and bearing our cross, is something we can do each day of our lives – for our good, for the good of others, and for the glory of God.