Friday, May 27, 2011

Take up your Cross and Follow Me

Then He said to them all,If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels." (Luke 9:23-26)

Although Jesus offered salvation as a free gift (John 1:12; 3:16–18; Eph. 2:8, 9), He also warned that following Him would entail suffering and hardship (Matt. 5:10–12; Rom. 8:17; 2 Thess. 1:5). People are willing to pay a high price for something they value. Is it any surprise that Jesus would demand this much commitment from His followers? There are at least three conditions that must be met by people who want to follow Jesus. We must be willing to deny self, to take up our crosses, and to follow Him. Anything less is superficial lip service.

Christians follow their Lord by imitating His life and obeying His commands. To take up the cross meant to carry your own cross to the place where you would be killed. Many Galileans had been killed that way by the Romans. Applied to the disciples, it meant to identify completely with Christ's message, even if it meant death. We must deny our selfish desires to use our time and money our own way and to choose our own direction in life without regard to Christ. Following Christ is costly now, but in the long run, it is well worth the pain and effort.

If this present life is most important to you, you will do everything you can to protect it. You will not want to do anything that might endanger your safety, health, or comfort. By contrast, if following Jesus is most important, you may find yourself in unsafe, unhealthy, and uncomfortable places. You will risk death, but you will not fear it because you know that Jesus will raise you to eternal life. Nothing material can compensate for the loss of eternal life. Jesus' disciples are not to use their lives on earth for their own pleasure - they should spend their lives serving God and people.

It makes no sense to attempt to save our lives on earth only to lose everything when our lives quickly and inevitably pass away. The wise course is to invest our earthly resources—our time, talents, and wealth—in what is eternal. Even if we lose our lives for Jesus’ sake, that investment will produce returns for all eternity (Luke 19:11–27; Matt. 6:19–21; 19:27–30)

Luke's Greek audience would have found it difficult to understand a God who could die, just as Jesus' Jewish audience would have been perplexed by a Messiah who would let Himself be captured. Both would be ashamed of Jesus if they did not look past His death to His glorious resurrection and second coming. Then they would see Jesus not as a loser but as the Lord of the universe, who through His death brought salvation to all people. Recognition of Jesus will be rewarded in the coming judgment. Failure to recognize Him will lead to significant loss (1 Cor. 3:12–15; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim. 2:12; 1 John 2:28; 2 John 7, 8; Rev. 3:11; 22:12).

I think of the old Christian Hymn "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus" which puts a lot of this in perspective when it comes to picking up our cross daily and following Him. Read the lyrics and meditate on the words:

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
No turning back, no turning back.

This hymnal was written from scripture (Luke 9:57) where Jesus was approached by a man who volunteered to follow Him without reservation. His problem was that he had not realistically counted the cost of discipleship. His enthusiasm, based on his feelings of the moment, would not be strong enough to sustain him during the trials that lay ahead. Jesus warned the would-be disciple that He, the Son of Man, did not have even the ordinary comforts of home.

When I decided to take up my cross and follow Jesus over twelve years ago, I knew that there would be no turning back. How about you my friend? Are you willing to deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Him?

References: NKJV Holy Bible, Life Application Bible (NIV), the Nelson Study Bible.


Clint said...

I say that I am willing---and I try. But being a Christian is difficult. The only thing more difficult is NOT being one.

tommytwotoez said...

Amen brother! Love the message of self-denial. My church family has recently been going through spritual disciplines and self-denial has been at the heart of it. Our modern world today is so full of comforts, a lot of much distracts us from truly following our Abba, Father.

I think the practice of fasting should be reintroduced to us all. And not just food fasting but also tv, video games, music...all this noise is keeping up from hearing His voice.

Perhaps from time to time we should just leave the tv off or even this computer that we're posting with. As the old proverb goes, the use of something to often turns the sweet into sour.

David Morris said...

Great Post, Thanks for sharing! It was a great reminder
to me this week that we must take up our cross, and that following Jesus does come at a cost as he said it would. Thank you and God bless,

Sharlot said...

take up his cross DAILY!!!! that's DAILY.. thank you lord for the reminder.. weee

dfish said...

Luke 14:26-35 stresses the fact that one cannot even be a Christian without being willing to make such a commitment. Too many want to accept Christ as a backup plan rather than as the primary life.

Great post.

WORLASI said...

I wish I can have a one on one talk with you Bro. Lloyd.
I have got somethings to talk with you about. Just let me know how possible but still this is a great post and I like the song here.
God bless you and the family.

MTJ said...

Hi Lloyd,

I'm learning that the action of taking up my cross daily is a decision I make each day as I seek to follow Jesus. It's a decision I do not regret.

Blessings and peace.


Frank Blasi said...

Although I fully agree with the article and the comments which follows it, may I be honest to you and say that in my early years of being a Christian, I had difficulties with this and other statements Jesus made during his ministry. Luke 14:33 is one example. I actually believed that to be a disciple of Christ I must be homeless, pennyless and wondering the streets, sleeping rough while spending my time declaring the Gospel.
Very much like Jesus did and his disciples in the land with a much more pleasant climate!
Actually I wasn't alone in thinking this.
Peter himself protested that how can anyone be saved? For we all own something.
Jesus reply actually liberated me from this impossible burden. He said, "With men this is impossible, but WITH GOD all things are possible."
With God.
This means that the only way we can follow Jesus is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, who is available to anyone who asks for him.
Paul wrote that in him he can do all things, and to live in Christ is a winner and to die is gain.
One thing becomes obvious when taking the text this way - God takes the glory and all grounds for boasting is stripped from us, save boasting of Jesus Christ.

Sara G said...

Amen! Thank you for your blog. A definite must daily!! Have a blessed weekend!

The Angulo's said...

Yep! I recall praying help me follow you, Lord the way you deserve. There are days when we get so weary in spirit. We need to ask Him to help us carry our crosses like when Jesus couldn't go on and someone had to help Him.

Many believers are just like the children of Israel in old testament times. When we are abundantly blessed we forget Him and then God's jealous love brings on chastisements to lead us back to cleave to Him.

Good post. Thanks for the reminder.

The Owl Nest said...

Thank you for posting this Lloyd :-)

Many people think following Yeshua will be an easy thing to do - they casually disregard the warning that it will be the HARDEST THING YOU EVER DECIDE TO DO.

1)You will lose family members - parents, spouse, children, Aunts, Uncles, cousins, siblings, grandparents ...
2)You will lose some friends; maybe all of them depending on the life choices you made before choosing to follow Yeshua.
3)You may lose your job, your home, your entire way of life.
4) You may even lose your life.

But, losing all those things are absolutely worth it to have Yeshua in your life :-)

Yeshua gave His all for me ... I can certainly give up my all if it is required. I have never regretted making the choice to follow Yeshua NO MATTER WHAT.

It isn't easy. But then, Yeshua never promised it would be - man tells us being in the Family of God is easy; Father is not a man that He should lie. Father has always been straight with us.

"I have decided to follow of Jesus; no turning back; no turning back". There is nothing life has to offer me that can lure me away from my Beloved :-) Already been there and done that ... and it wasn't "all that":LOL


Ross said...

A challenging post. At this point in time I'm seeking after God and asking Him to show me what He wants me to do for Him. I have this nagging feeling that I can give more of myself to Him than I currently am.

vision poet said...

I agree with everything you have said here. It was well written too I might add. One thing I would add to this is that we should try to identify with Christ in his suffering, but we will never be Christ. We may die, but we will never be the sacrifice that Jesus was. I believe that when he says "take up your cross and follow me," he was saying deny worldly pleasures and the things of this world. Follow him in doing the things he did, but don't ever think you will ever be what Christ was, because that isn't possible.
We can be like him but we can't ever be him. Followers may want to be like their leader, but they will never be their leader.

Barbee' said...

Hello Lloyd, thank you for your nice comment on my blog. I came right over. Your blog is a wonderful testament. Keep up the good work!

Vetsy said...

Absolutely!... follow and meditate on him daily.. Thank you Lloyd for stopping by.

God bless.

Lauren said...

I really love the power of God. You visited my blog at a time when I really needed something more and all it takes sometimes is a gentle reminder, for me sometimes. It's a post like this that helps. Thanks Lloyd.

Ian Curtis said...

By God's grace I am willing, and He has led me well. I would never have met my wife unless I had been following Christ, and I never would have met people such as you, Lloyd, who mean a great deal to me. I'm glad God's leading crossed our paths. Yours in Christ, Ian.

hiLda said...

Hi Lloyd,
Thank you for reading my blog

It's amazing to see how technology works these days. Because I wrote in Indonesian in my blog, but you can understand it too. Haha.

So nice to read your post. May God always bless you.

Dean Spencer said...

Hi Lloyd -

It really is a test of faith to give your life over to Jesus. I can't imagine living now thinking that I want to protect everything I have, as you put it.

I want to wake up everyday surrendering to Jesus and be willing to lay all that I am and all that I have for Him.

This is a great message! Thanks for sharing Lloyd.

God bless!