Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
"This passage sets forth the heart of Christian discipleship and it strikes a death blow to the self-centered false gospels that are so popular in contemporary Christianity." So says John MacArthur of this verse. Jesus is telling His disciples here that a true Christian, one who is truly born again, is one who denies self, takes up a cross, and follows Him. Lets take a look at each of these and see if we can discover what Jesus is saying to us today.
First He says that to be a disciple of His we must deny ourself. The perfect example of self denial is Jesus Himself; in the garden the night He was betrayed Jesus prayed "Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will." To deny yourself means that you are now submitting to the will of God in everything - even when it hurts, even when you get ridiculed, even if it means that you loose your friends, your family, your job, your possessions. To be a disciple of Christ Jesus has to be the most important thing in your life.
Second Jesus says that we must take up our cross. The cross was an instrument of death; Jesus was saying that His disciples are those who die to themselves. To be a follower of Christ we must no longer live for our own interests and desires, but we must do what He wills. Galatians 2:20 tells us that as a follower of Christ we have been crucified with Him, and it is no longer us who live but Christ who lives in us.
And the last thing Jesus says is that we are to follow Him. This does not mean that we can say a prayer, or walk an isle, or sign a card and be a Christian. Being a follower of Jesus Christ means that we learn what His will is and we do it. We can not just make an intellectual ascent to the facts about Jesus and say we are a Christian; Jesus set the bar a lot higher than that. We must follow Him. There is an old saying that says becoming a Christian is free, but being a Christian will cost you everything; That is exactly what this verse is telling us..
Spend a few minutes today thinking about what it means to deny yourself, take up your cross, and then follow Jesus.Print This Post