The life of a follower of Jesus is not and easy one. His you is easy because we don’t have to carry it alone; He helps us. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to shoulder it. He just gives us the strength to face each step.
Jesus had started talking to His disciples about His impending death. He knew it was time and He wanted to prepare them. He know how hard their lives were about to become.
“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” (vs 24 NIV) The cross was a familiar sight for people of that time. It was a “cruel and unusual” form of execution, one of the most cruel the Romans had devised. It wasn’t just the pain of the torturous death, or the humiliation of the public execution, but also the humiliation and spectacle of the “parade” carrying the cross through the city streets to the site of the actual crucifixion. This is the imagery I think Jesus was showing the disciples. If they truly wanted to follow Jesus, it couldn’t be just a secret following; they needed to publicly align themselves with Him, no matter the cost.
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (vs 25-26 NIV) If someone isn’t willing to put his everything into following Jesus, he isn’t truly following. This is really hard for us to do. In America, right now, we have it easy; we are not persecuted for our faith. But in other parts of the world, those who take that stand are tortured, sold into slavery, imprisoned, and killed for their faith.
How will you “take up your cross” today? How will you “deny yourself?” Jesus calls us to follow Him every moment of everyday. What will you choose: keeping your live or saving your soul?