“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).
“Take up the cross and follow me,” said Jesus.
So, how did taking up the cross thing go for Jesus?
That doesn’t sound like much fun does it.
Jesus tells us that there are three things required for those who want to be disciples, or literally followers of Jesus:
- Deny yourself
- Take up the cross
- and Follow me
All three verbs – ‘deny’, ‘take up’, ‘follow’ – are written as imperatives. These are commands, not suggestions.
Also, these verbs are written in the aorist tense. The Greek had multiple ways to express the past tense. Aorist past tense verbs mean on-going action. So, when your child says, “I brushed my teeth,” the understanding is that not only did he brush his teeth before bed, but that he will brush his teeth again in the morning, and again in the evening. Brushing one’s teeth as a one time activity leads to cavity. Besides, that would really be disgusting.
When we think about denying oneself and taking up the cross, we imagine these things to be heroic or legendary things. That’s what super duper Christians do. Wow! Look at those super duper Christians denying themselves and taking up the cross! Wow! What studs!!!
But that’s what is wrong with us. These are not heroic or legendary things. These are normal, everyday things for disciples! This is what is expected of every single disciple who calls themselves a Christian. That we have gone away from this truth is a problem.
Every day, every moment, we are called to deny ourselves and take up the cross. This is the practice and acceptance of duties and responsibilities that we may not like. It’s not about what we may like. It’s about doing what God calls us to do.
Remember? Deny yourself. Take up the cross. So you can follow me.
Let’s get following!