And He said to them all, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” -- Luke 9:23; King James Version
Recently my family purchased a digital camera. The disc that would allow the camera and the computer to communicate and cooperate was not included in the package. There was an internet address that I assessed to download the needed software. Before I was allowed to download the program I needed I was REQUIRED to join this company’s product owner member group. The requirements for joining were simple, but they were still required. There was an open invitation to LOOK at anything on the site, but to take advantage of any part of it required membership. Beside many of the areas allotted for information were red asterisks. Every where there was an asterisk the information requested was NOT OPTIONAL. For example, I did not WANT to give them my email address, but it was a requirement. What it boiled down to was whether I wanted what they had to offer bad enough to abide by their requirements.
That’s what this verse is about to me. There are three proverbial red asterisks in this verse that mark the REQUIREMENTS for being a follower of Jesus Christ. The choices are simple; if we want to be identified with Jesus, we must follow His requirements. They are as follows.
The first requirement is that one must “deny himself”. Quite simply one must say an emphatic “NO!” to one’s old self. There can be no fence riding! This in an all or nothing venture. There can be no reliance on whatever one may be by their own nature. For example, one cannot depend on their own goodness; case in point being the popular saying “Well, I’ve never killed anyone.” Part of denying self is casting off every attempt to reach up to God through self produced or imagined goodness (religion) and simply trust in His grace by faith for salvation. It means taking off the old self and being clothed with Christ. It means counting every thing we once thought our gain as loss for Christ (See Philippians 3:7-11).
Secondly, it is required that one “take up his cross daily”. This means that the one who will “come after” Jesus must see themselves as a condemned man who is carrying his own cross to the place of execution. This is voluntary, yet it is necessary to follow Jesus. It means that one who will follow Christ should expect, and willingly receive, pain, shame, and persecution that comes with loyalty to Christ. It is the continual dying to self and living to Christ and WHATEVER that may cost. The word “daily” is clearly indicative that Jesus expected this to be a continually renewed commitment.
Third and lastly, to follow Christ one must “follow” Him. This means that HE dictates the path! This means that one must trust Christ’s means and methods. The follower must go where the Master goes as He goes and that following is to be in complete obedience. It does not mean it is for a set time; rather, this is to follow and keep following. It is not an on again off again venture, but a continual putting of our spiritual feet in His prints. We are to be hard on His heels, not diverting from the path nor seeking to command the method and direction of the trip.
Any persons that do not meet Jesus’ stated requirements are spectators and are NOT followers. Like getting software for my camera from the company’s online source, there is the simple matter of whether we are willing to follow Jesus’ requirements to take advantage of what He offers. How about you friend? Are you a spectator or a follower of Christ?
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and Jesus the Son,
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