“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up the cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).
There are three demands of being a disciple of Jesus:
- Deny yourself
- Take up the cross
- Follow me
Deny yourself – it’s not about you. It’s not about what you want. It’s not about what makes you happy.
Wow. That’s kind of a downer.
But here’s the truth. You can make it all about you, all about what makes you happy. Many try. And, you know what the result is? They’re not happy. They have a good marriage, a good paying job, a nice house, nice vacations…and yet they’re still not happy.
You know why? Happiness is found in living out your purpose. Happiness is discovered in making a difference. It’s when we live for something bigger than us that we live a meaningful and purposeful life. It is then we are happy.
It’s not about you. Seriously. It’s not.
Take up the cross – take up suffering, take up giving your life so others may live. The pathway for our salvation was paved through the cross. Why do we think that the pathway for spiritual and kingdom success is paved through happiness and bliss?
If you want to know why this is the case, look at “Deny yourself.”
Follow me – follow the way Jesus has chosen. Jesus was tempted by the devil for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness. The core of the temptation was for Jesus to choose the Messianic plan minus the suffering and the cross. What Jesus realized at Gethsemane was that there is no Kingdom plan minus suffering and the cross.
Follow the one who went to the cross so that we might live through him.
The Kingdom way may have times of hardship, heartbreak, betrayal, suffering, and even death. But don’t lose heart. None of these can defeat you. Every one of these things will be an opportunity to reflect the one who marched to the cross.
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up the cross and follow me.”