Yesterday Aaron Bryant preached at my home church on a very familiar passage, but he touched on this verse in such a powerful way that I wanted to share a few of his thoughts with you. First, let's look at the verses found in Luke 9:
23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?
The Holy Bible : New International Version
. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Lk 9:23-25
Growing up in church I heard this verse many times. I remember being challenged by these verses to really count the cost of following Jesus and to take my relationship with him seriously. I honestly haven't really thought about this verse in a very long time and was challenged by these verses again yesterday. Aaron made an observation yesterday, that now seems like a very logical deduction from this verse, but honestly had never crossed my mind in such a blunt manner. Here is what he said.
“Don't take up the cross unless you are willing to lay down your life on that cross at some point along the journey.”
Wow! That is enough for me to contemplate for a year! I have always thought about taking up my cross more as laying aside my desires, dreams and expectations that aren't necessarily bad, but just not in God's plan for my life. But to think about taking up my cross for the purpose of laying my own life down on it one day really made me count the cost of following Christ in a new way. Which is exactly Jesus' point. He didn't want people to follow Him because it was the social norm or because it was easy. He wants followers who are willing to lay down their lives for the sake of gospel.
Secondly, Aaron noted the word “daily” in this passage. He reminded us that in our walks with Jesus we must make the decision to follow Him daily. We don't have to stress about tomorrow or next week or next month or next year. I need only to make the decision TODAY to follow Him. As I think about the future, I can often become overwhelmed with all the changes that are about to take place in my life. But keeping perspective that I just need to follow Jesus today, allows me the freedom to lay down my whole self today, not holding anything back for tomorrow. Then tomorrow I can make the decision for tomorrow.
Aaron ended his sermon with this question by having us answer the following question for ourselves, and I would like to end today's blog challenging you to answer the same question.
“What will it cost me to take up my cross for the next 24 hours?”
For me Jesus is well worth the cost, and I pray you find Him worth it, as well. Let us make the decision today to pay whatever price He asks of us just for today. Then we'll do the same thing tomorrow.