I have always heard the verse from Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." But I never fully understood it. Jesus died on the cross, He paid the price for my sins - why would I pick it up? I mean I desire to know God and be a follower of Christ - but what this meant was beyond me.
I have been doing a verse by verse study in the book of Matthew - my goal is to go through the gospels and Acts. I am looking for what Christ told me to do (All Christians to do), what example he set. I have to say it has been pretty eye opening as I allow the Holy Spirit to help me understand and grow in my walk with Christ.
Well, I read that verse again, but I read it in the context of what it was written. Jesus had just rebuked Peter for telling Jesus that the things Jesus was predicting (his death) should not happen. Jesus said "Get the behind me Satan." Jesus knew what laid ahead of him, and as a man it was going to be a hard road to go, he certainly didn't need his friends telling him not to do it.
But right after Jesus makes this incredible statement. If you want to be my follower, deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me. Well certainly as a Christian I want to follow Christ, But his next statement, I believe he was telling to deny what we want just as he had and deny his"self."
Christ certainly had to deny his flesh in order to take our sins upon him - some men might die for their family, but I don't know to many who would die for an enemy (Maybe our military men and women). He had his friends saying "Don't do it." He knew what was coming. But instead, he denied himself. He knew what allowing himself that pleasure would do to the world he came to save - he loved us to much.
So as he stood before his accusers, he denied himself so that he could pay the penalty for my sin.Then he said "take up your cross." Something that my pastor said made this click. Jesus was the high priest but he was also the sacrificial Lamb. He not only offered the sacrifice (as the High Priest) - he was the sacrifice (as the Lamb). When he took up the cross he acted as both.
We also have to be a sacrifice. He doesn't want our body on a Cross - He wants our life fully sacrificed for his cause. He wants us to be willing to offer our life to him, and our life is to be a sacrifice as we deny our self and follow the path he took.He then said "And follow me." He didn't just say "Oh I will die for them." He did it.
So often we say "Oh I will sacrifice .... for Christ" But when push comes to shove, it is Him that gets set aside. We think the sacrifice costs too much. We won't put the action behind our words. Well Christ wants us to follow him - he died - just as he wants us to die to self. He rose again, and He promised to give us a new life for the one we gave up. We die so we can live in Him. He died so we could live with Him. So deny your self, take up your cross, and follow Him. Deny your self, sacrifice your self, and die to self and you will be able to live in Christ.