As Jesus sets his face towards the cross, He urges His disciples to do the same
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
27 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”
This section is full of paradoxes, taking up the cross daily, and following? Saving life but losing it? Gaining the world, but losing one’s self? Shame and glory?
In a way Jesus was again encouraging the disciples to look at His ministry, and the events soon to unfold, with ‘heavenly’ eyes, rather than earthly ones.
They would soon see their leader killed, the shepherd destroyed, the king not crowned, and the Messiah gone.
This would be in stark contrast with the exciting and victorious things they had seen as they had been sent out on ministry.
How could Jesus be talking about losing one’s life and a cross?
Our life of following Jesus is paradoxical to the outside observer, and sometimes even to us. A disciple doesn’t have a ‘charmed life’ untouchable by any harm. While following the greatest King the universe will ever know, a disciple does not seek any greatness or recognition.
Instead we have a cross. A rugged difficult heavy thing to bear. And we have to take it up daily. It might seem that there is not much going for being a disciple. You lose your own identity, you face the opposition of the world.
We see a glimpse of what is visible with heavenly eyes. Beyond the Cross, glory. Beyond earthly recognition, salvation. Beyond death, the Kingdom of God.
So, the cross that we take up, instead of being a morbid reminder and burden, is instead a step closer to glory and the spread of the Kingdom.
Head: What do you think of when you have to take up the cross? Is it something you do for yourself, or for others?
Heart: A classic song about love starts with the lines “You’ve got to give a little, take a little.” In your day today, how can you give a little as you take a little more of the cross upon you?
Hands: How could you be ‘not ashamed’ of the gospel today? Maybe it might be talking about what you did on Sunday or saying grace before your lunch at work or school.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for taking up the cross on my behalf. Please open my eyes to see the Heavenly view, your glorious Kingdom being established through those that follow you and point others to You. Amen.
A song to listen to: Raised With Christ