SALVATION is FREE but DISCIPLESHIP is COSTLY! Then He (Jesus) said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?" (Luke 9:23-25)
In the above passage, our Lord Jesus invites His disciples to follow Him by denying themselves and taking up their ‘own’ crosses on a daily basis. To deny self means willingly to renounce any so-called right to plan or choose, and to recognize His lordship in every area of life. To take up the cross means to deliberately choose the kind of life Jesus lived. This involves bearing the opposition of loved ones, bearing the reproach of the world, forsaking family, houses, lands and the comforts of this life, putting complete dependence on God, obeying the guidance of the Holy Spirit, proclaiming an unpopular gospel message, taking a pathway of loneliness, bearing organized attacks from established religious leaders, suffering for righteousness’ sake, suffering slander and shame, pouring out our lives for others, and dying to self and to the world.
But it also involves laying hold of life that is everlasting! It means finding at last the reason for our existence, and our eternal reward. We instinctively recoil from a life of cross-bearing. Our minds are reluctant to believe that this could be God’s will for us. Yet the words of Christ “If anyone desires to come after Me” mean that nobody is excused!
The Romans required a condemned criminal to carry the crossbeam to his place of execution. Luke adds the word ‘daily’ to the Lord’s requirement of cross-bearing, indicating a progressive and continuous renouncing of one’s natural self-centeredness (v. 23). Jesus affirms that one must be prepared even to die if he would be a follower of Christ. To take up the cross means to renounce selfish ambition; it is a death to a whole way of life.
Since Jesus bore the cross for us, we should be willing to bear our own crosses on a daily basis. We should have a strong personal relationship with God – a relationship born of faith in the work of Jesus at the cross. We should be willing to sacrifice everything for the privilege of proclaiming Him in our daily lives. Let us remember that what is gained in Christ far outweighs all that is lost for Christ. Salvation is free but discipleship is costly!
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Gal 2:20)