23 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.
Here Jesus mentions three things to those who desire to come after Him. They need to:
- Deny themselves
- Take up their cross daily
- Follow Him
What does it mean to take up your cross daily? There is an element of denial and sacrifice to take up your cross. But here Jesus speaks of denying oneself and taking up the cross, as if it were two different things.
In fact, taking up your cross involves all tree of the points above.
What does God say to you personally when He commands you to take up your cross daily? You cannot say that Christ has done everything and you needn’t do anything anymore. Here is something for you to do. In Roman times it was a very difficult task to carry a heavy, rugged, wooden cross. Jesus doesn’t say that He will take and carry your cross for you, but commands you to take up your cross daily and follow Him.
Many people have their idea of what the Christian life is like, but it’s as far away as the east is from the west from what Jesus commanded.
When He hung on the cross, He did it so that sin could be dealt with. If God hadn’t burdened the Lord Jesus to bear our sin on the cross, then the cross wouldn’t have meant much more today than an ornament.
Even if you claim that you take up your cross daily, but if His cross hasn’t worked in your life and dealt with sin in your life, your claim is worthless.
Paul told others to follow him as he followed Christ. You’ve got to be sanctified so that others can follow you as you follow Christ. Christ must be seen in you. Sin must be dealt with in your life.
It’s a pity that people’s spiritual lives grow old. Your spiritual life must be fresh, not older than 1 day. It must not be like old stale bread, but like freshly baked bread with that lovely, fresh smell. People are attracted by the smell of freshly baked bread and are even prepared to pay for it. That is how your life ought to be.
Many congregations who once were on fire for God have degenerated into just becoming another church.
You need a lot of strength to carry that cross daily. And you do not have enough strength – you need Christ daily to strengthen you.
Unless you take up your cross daily and follow Christ, sin will enter daily. If you don’t deny yourself you won’t be able to carry your cross, because to take up your cross means that you don’t have any rights anymore. Today we’re living in a time of rights, but when you meet with the cross, you lose all those rights. It’s not your will that counts anymore but what Christ wills.
Maybe in the past you’ve carried your cross, but have you taken up your cross today? Are you dead to the world, its fashions, your own desires and passions and your own ego? Has sin been dealt with in your life at its roots.
If you take up your cross daily then you won’t grow weary spiritually. Many start the Christian life, but grow tired along the way, because they don’t take up their cross daily.