Luke 9:23-24 - 23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
In this passage, Jesus lays out the roadmap for those who are considering the call of following him. He is letting us know that just because you initially say “yes” to following Him doesn’t mean that the work is done. If only it were that easy! No, Jesus says that those who are going to follow Him will have to wake up every day and keep making the choice to follow Him. Jesus doesn’t just call us to a momentary decision of accepting salvation; he invites us on a lifelong journey of sanctification - that is to say, a transformational work of our heart, soul, and mind to get rid of our old ways of sin so that we may find true life in Christ. This is not light work! This is why Jesus uses the picture of the Cross - to really follow Him, you must be willing to submit yourself under the weight of its work. It requires complete surrender of your will. It requires a death of your comforts, your plans, your life. But here is the promise: if you answer the call of daily dying, you will find that His load is not heavy at all, it’s actually very light. Where you once felt the worry, shame, and pain of having to hold it all together, you will now experience peace, joy, love, and satisfaction of knowing He is in control. The old you may be dead, but the new you will enjoy life the way the Creator of every good and perfect thing made it to be. Let me ask you a question: Is there anything in your life that you are hanging onto? What can you do today to nail those old ways of life to the cross so that you might find new life in Jesus?
He is forewarning them that there will be an immense amount of pressure to stay on the path. In every moment, every decision, they will be faced with the choice to submit to His will or go their own way. Of course, choosing to follow our own desires only leads to loss and destruction, and this is why Jesus says you must take up our cross - a symbol of crucifixion - and daily put to death our old way of life in order to follow him. Jesus is forewarning his followers that there will be challenges ahead on this journey - both externally and internally. There will be pressure from the outside to give up following him - in fact, many of his early followers faced persecution and were even killed for the sake of Christ. But there will also be an immense amount of pressure internally to not give up our desires, our comforts, our plans, and our ways in order to follow Him. This is why Jesus says that we must take up our cross - a symbol of crucifixion - and daily put to death our old way of life in order to follow him. The irony of it all is that when we engage in this process of sanctification, we find true meaning, true joy, true satisfaction in Him. In this passage, there is one word that stood out to me: “daily”. Without this word, the call to follow Jesus could be reduced to a singular decision, perhaps just a momentary relinquishing of one’s will to the Lord. It could inferred that this. However, Jesus was intentional in every single word that he spoke, and so he included a word that would not just invite us to a moment but rather initiate us on a lifelong journey of surrender. Sinful Nature and Spiritual Nature; Choices between Life and Death.
Radical obedience that says: Wherever you lead, God I will follow. And whatever you forbid, I will yield to your ways. Reflection Question: Is there any area of your life that you are refusing to yield to the complete lordship of Jesus Christ? You have the choice and the power to put those things to death today and experience the fullness of life found only in Christ.
Lord, I invite you to reveal to me those areas in my life that I am still unyielding to you. I acknowledge that they do not lead to life, and I can’t afford the price of living outside of your perfect will for my life. Therefore, I surrender myself again to you. Wherever you go, I will go and wherever you forbid, I will yield to your ways. Holy Spirit, lead me along the path that leads to everlasting life; I take up my cross and I follow you.