Take up your cross, and follow me
34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.
Throughout my four years at Bible school we studied the Bible very intensely, reading through all different sections of the Bible and having them come alive. However, this section may have been one that has stuck with me most and continues to challenge me almost daily. Possibly you know it better from Matthew 16:24,25 or Luke 9:23,24. Whenever I see in the Gospels that multiple writers have found it important to include something, my brain clicks in and I desire to see why.
Why does this particular verse hit me so hard? Because Jesus isn’t vague, His message isn’t easy, and he’s only giving two choices. Jesus either allows people to continue in their selfish ways, hanging on to their lives and eventually losing them. Or, following Christ, taking up our cross, letting go of control of our lives, and having our lives be saved. So we can choose, try to have control even though it will never work, or just let God take control now. It’s truly a simple decision, however living it out and continuing to make that decision each day may not be so simple.
When we think about the cross we may only think of a necklace people wear around their necks now, or a symbol someone has in their house, but the cross had a much different meaning when Jesus spoke of it. This verse says we each have our crosses, and Jesus’ was death. Jesus literally had to carry the cross that he’d die on, he’d have to watch friends abandon Him, be humiliated, and ultimately die for nothing he’d done wrong but to save those who had done nothing to deserve it. Giving our lives likely will not mean death, but it could mean giving future plans, possessions, and even dreams to God.
We either choose to hold tightly onto our lives eventually having control slip away, or we give control to God right now and allowing Him to lead us on our next journey.
Pastor Nikki Ragush