And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.Luke 9:23(NASB)
The Lord Jesus had just finished His ministry in the Galilee area and set His face to Jerusalem. He started preparing His followers for His fast approaching death and Resurrection. He began training His disciples for their post Resurrection ministry, and increasingly He made hints about His person, His sacrifice on the Cross, and His coming kingdom.
Jesus not only started to explain privately to His disciples about His mission and ministry (His death and Resurrection), but He also talked to the crowd about what it really means for a believer to become a true disciple of His. And so we read that Jesus said to all, "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me."
All believers are children of God, but there is a vital difference between being saved as a son and following the Lord as His disciple. We are saved from our sins because we trusted Jesus as Saviour Who died on the Cross. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ. But to become a true disciple, we must take up our own cross daily, and follow the Lord Jesus. We are to walk the way of the Cross.
To be a disciple, it must not only be hearing the Word and being a listener, but it is also doing the Word and applying it. It is not only knowing that Christ has identified with our sins (sonship), but that we are to identify with Christ (discipleship). We are to identify with His surrender, His sacrifice, and His suffering.
We are to be like Christ in His humanity and to deny ourselves if we are to be His disciples, but to do so we are to surrender our lives to the Spirit, to give ourselves as a willing and living sacrifice to the Father, and then to say as did Christ, "Thy will not mine be done." Self, the self-life, and all that is connected with the old sin nature must remain securely nailed to the Cross.
The world does not understand this kind of life, and carnal Christians have opted to keep self on the throne of their life. But to follow the way of the Cross, we are to give our lives to the Lord. Our life is to be a life of surrender, suffering, sacrifice, and service to Him. If you give up your life for the Lord, you will not lose it but rather save it.
Following the Lord in surrender, suffering and service is a daily discipline, but with wonderful benefits not only in this life, but in the eternal ages to come. Let us take these words spoken by Jesus to heart: "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me."
Loving Father, more and more I want to surrender my life to You, to take up my cross daily as a willing sacrifice and to cry out, "Thy will not mine be done." I pray that my old self-life will remain firmly nailed to the Cross. May I submit to Your leading and guiding in all I say and do. In Christ's name I pray, AMEN.