(Matthew 16:24-27, Luke 9:23, Matthew 10:38, Mark 8:34, Revelation 12:11c, Galatians 3:13)
What the Holy Spirit is leading us into this week has become one of the truth we do not hear anymore in today’s gospel. Carrying one’s cross seems to many contemporary Christians as curse, really the cross was a curse but the Lord Jesus borne it (Galatians 3:13). Many people present today’s gospel as if challenges are only enemies exploits or results of sins. Consequently, this has blurred spiritual eyes of many. Today’s gospel scenes are filled with many Christians exercising “mega authority” and prophesying ease when the Lord as not declared it. This is so pitiful as many contemporary Christians are not so much aware of the role of carrying one’s cross to follow Jesus. Even when they seem to know, they mistake divine punishment for cross. Carrying cross seems like divine punishment to many. They were baffled, that, if Jesus were truly the Messiah, He should not have died like a criminal (Luke 24:13-26).
However, some knows that cross is different from divine punishment.
39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom
To one of the malefactors, if Jesus was the Son of God then He should demonstrate it by freeing himself from the cross. Conversely, the other had the understanding that they were under punishment for their sins but Jesus was carrying His cross of glory, then he said, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
… and they loved not their lives unto the death (Rev 12:11c).
The third part of this particular Bible passage is talking about one of the very important prerequisite for following Jesus. “Denying oneself” is when your journey of life is no longer because of you but of Jesus. It is you leaving your comfort zone for Jesus. It is giving up ease for the sake of following Jesus. Here, we are not talking about hurting yourself just because you want to prove your love to Jesus. This will only amount to foolishness. If it is clear to you that following Jesus may bring unfavorable condition but not following Him will bring the favorable conditions, and you choose to follow Jesus despite the clear unfavorable condition than denying him to follow the favorable conditions. This is what deny oneself means and this is what carrying one’s cross means.
Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
In summary, some of the prerequisites for following Jesus are:
1) Deny yourself (this is self-control and self-denial, not self-affliction)
2) Carry Your Cross daily (be sure you are carrying a cross and not punishment for sins)
3) Follow Jesus (in spirit and in truth, in deed and indeed)
Please, join me as we sing this powerful hymn (you can search for the tune online)
THE OLD RUGGED CROSS
1) On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame,
And I love that old cross where the Dearest and Best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
2) Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above,
To bear it to dark Calvary.
3) In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify xcxxme.
1) Lord, I promise to follow You, with all my soul, with all my life and with all that makes up me.
2) Lord, I will not deny You, in my deeds, in Jesus name.
3) Holy Spirit, guide
me into the truth of the gospel, in Jesus name (John 16:13).
4) Lord Jesus, give me the grace to follow You without turning back (Luke 9:62).
5) Enlighten my mind to know the hope of Your calling and glory, in Jesus name (Ephesians 1:8).
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