“And He said to them all, if any one wishes to come after Me, He must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” – Luke 9:23
If you have pondered the meaning of this verse, you join a company of countless saints over the ages. Although this passage is included in both Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23, there are additional verses found only in Mark that provide us with guidance on what it means to take up our cross daily.
In both accounts, Jesus tells His disciplines that He would need to suffer many things culminating in His ultimate death and resurrection. However, Mark describes a conversation between Peter and Jesus that is not included in Luke and gives us insight as to why Jesus further explains what is required of us to follow His mission.
In Mark 8:32, after Jesus tells everyone that He will suffer and die, Peter resists this notion vehemently. With passion and deep authoritative power, Jesus replies,“Get behind me Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests but man’s” (v. 33).
Jesus’ concise response gives us a clear message: our self-serving interests of protection, infatuation, and absorption are not from God, but from Satan himself. In addition, if we desire to follow God our desires of “self” will need to be crucified on a daily basis. In the days of Jesus, this was very clear and disturbing imagery, as crucifixion preceded by flogging and carrying your cross through the city was commonplace.
We do not need to have witnessed a horrific crucifixion to understand the importance of living our life dedicated to Christ.
Actions of dying to self every day, bearing troubles in joy, and sacrificial generosity are only examples of our willingness to live a surrendered life. However, they are proof of Jesus living within us, giving us strength and perseverance in the midst of trials by the power of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit fueling us, surrendering and dying to ourselves in a daily fashion would not be possible.
Jesus asks us to follow Him 13 times in the New Testament, and each time it is really an invitation into His victory over all the crosses we bear.
This article was written by Rosey Brausen, producer of Afternoons with Bill Arnold.