“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’” (Luke 9:23)
Jesus has a call for everyone: “deny yourself and daily take up your cross and follow me.” That’s the greatest call in the entire universe.
Events preceding this call are remarkable.
First, Jesus’s friend, John the Baptist, is beheaded in a bizarre manner (see Matthew 14:1-12). When Jesus hears of the news, he departed to a deserted place. When people hears of Jesus’s departure, they followed him (see Matthew 14:13). It’s as if they didn’t want Jesus to be alone. Then Jesus reacts to their coming in a compelling way. Instead of being unhappy, he was moved with compassion for them (see Matthew 14:14). He then taught them about the kingdom of God and healed the sick (Luke 9:11). After that he fed over five thousand of them with (see Matthew 14:15-21).
Secondly, when Jesus left the crowd and was now with his disciples, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” The crowds thought Jesus was John the Baptist or Elijah or some old prophet who’s. But they were wrong. He then turned the question to his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God” (see Luke 9:18-20). The answer was right.
The disciples knew that Jesus was the Christ; they knew that he was the Messiah. Despite them knowing, Jesus tells them: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
As much as this was a call for those who followed Jesus 2000 years ago, it is a call for us today if we are to follow him. Christians are followers of Jesus. Followers of Jesus daily deny themselves and take up their cross to follow after him.
We’re not called to seek comfort and the riches of the world. We’re called to die to self and our worldly desires, and embrace the sufferings and persecutions that comes with following Jesus. That’s what it means to be a Christian.
- Read and meditate on Romans 8:16-18