He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, 22saying, ‘The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’
23Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. 25What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? 26Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.’
A Daily Crosswalk
Jesus tells us in this passage that we must deny ourselves and take up a cross if we are to be his followers/disciples. Hes says that those who want to save their life will lose it, but those who lose their lives, for His sake, will save it. Exactly what are we to deny?
It’s down-sized economics, where less is more. Going through life, we continually add layers upon layers to protect ourselves. Mentally, we gather information, goods and habits to get our way, so we have what we think we need. Emotionally, we build walls to protect our image and feelings from suffering hurt. Bodily, we work to control our lives and the consequences we must bear. So many things we clutch hold of – but as we age, the burden grows heavy. We develop a desire to let go of some of the baggage. Hear the words in The Message version of the scripture above:
23 Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat – I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. 24 Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. 25 What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?
I have discovered my walk to the cross includes letting go; denying those habits I have collected out of fear. Spiritual growth is like peeling an onion, removing one layer at a time. When I deny myself these habits that I have convinced myself are me, then I discover a simpler, truer me. When I lose this false self I have created, I reveal the real me who wants desperately to follow the example of Jesus Christ. That person is the one eager to walk with Jesus.
Prayer: God, help me see what I encumber myself with, and what creates a barrier to living my life more fully. Help me remove the barriers, and live a life that accepts the way to the cross.
Rev. Andrea Andress