Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me, a Bible Study Media Devotional
“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’”
- Mark 8:34-38
The private conversation between Jesus and his disciples has gone public. Jesus went from telling the disciples about his upcoming rejection, death, and resurrection to teaching the crowds about what it meant to follow him. Until now, following Jesus meant free food, healings, and great teaching. However, there would be much more to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. Unbeknownst to them, the disciples were following Jesus to the cross.
This trek to the cross was not one of comfort or self-promotion. Instead, Jesus would demonstrate true humility. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus would plead with the Father to take the cup from him. He knew the way ahead would be excruciating. Yet, Jesus continued to surrender to the will of the Father. Those who wanted to follow Jesus would have to learn the same humility, surrender, and obedience. Jesus knew that these disciples would face great persecution and even martyrdom after his ascension to the Father. The irony was that in dying on behalf of sin, Jesus made the way for all who would believe in him to have eternal life. Death led to life and not just one life but many lives.
The disciples and all the followers of Jesus would be called to also take up their cross and to follow Jesus on the path of death to self and life to the Lord. To refuse this invitation was to refuse a relationship with the triune God. Jesus was telling his followers that they could love their lives in this world and cling to the fleeting security found in the world or they could surrender their earthly comforts to pursue an eternal security found in Jesus Christ. To proclaim the name of Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of the world may result in persecution and even death in this world. This proclamation would also guarantee eternal life with the Lord. To deny Jesus Christ as the Messiah may lead to earthly peace but will result in eternal separation from the Father. Comfort either in this world or in the world to come – Jesus said that every person must choose.
The season of Lent is that invitation to pick up our cross and to follow Jesus. It is also the time to examine whether we are dying daily to ourselves to build the kingdom of God. The costs may be high in this world, but the payment will be much greater in eternity! Reflection:
How is Jesus calling you to pick up your cross today?
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