Luke 9:23 (NIV) – Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Peter had just made his famous declaration of the fact that Jesus is truly the Messiah. Immediately after, the Lord predicts His imminent rejection, suffering, death and resurrection. It is in the backdrop of His own impending suffering, and death that the Lord defines who His disciple is.
A disciple is defined as one who follows a teacher.
Being born in a Christian home or having a Christian name does not make you or me a disciple of Christ. To those who follow Him wanting to be His disciple, the Lord says three specific things in this verse. He says deny, take up and follow.
A disciple of Christ is one who sets aside or puts away his/her selfish interests or personal agendas, denies self. The cross is not about self-promotion or self-affirmation. The cross means death. One has to die to self if one is to be a disciple of Christ.
A disciple is also one who takes up his cross and does it daily. Interestingly, the cross is not something that comes automatically nor is it thrust upon the disciple. A cross is not even a difficult person or situation that one finds uncomfortable, as we often like to believe. The cross is a choice that every disciple makes to die to self and follow the Master each day.
A disciple is also one who is willing to follow and conform to the example of Christ. The Amplified Bible describes a disciple as one who conforms to the way Christ lived, even suffered and died. A disciple who chooses to take up the cross expresses a willingness to endure whatever may come as a result of following the Master.
To say ‘no’ to things I desire
And ‘yes’ to those that He requires
Is to be a disciple, plain and simple.
A disciple simply believes and follows
The voice of the Master as through each day one goes
Leaning continually only on Him and His Word, the Bible
A disciple knows that faithful is the One who has called
Who will not leave you alone, for He is your Shepherd
And will bring you beyond Jordan, safe and gentle
To choose to follow Christ, to live and die for Him, comes from a heart overwhelmed by gratitude for saving our souls from eternal death and damnation. And so, we as disciples live each day asking the question, what can we do in return for all that He has done for us? And the resounding answer is that we deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him!
To deny self, take up the cross and follow is no easy call, and yet that is the call and commitment of each one who chooses to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Are you living daily as a disciple of Christ?
Lord help me each day set myself aside, take up my cross and follow You, I pray.