Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.Matthew 16:24 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
I love how Jesus speaks plainly to His followers. Consider this in light of what was given in yesterday’s post about Esther. We all have to come to a point where we must count the cost (Luke 14:28.)
Those who want to follow Jesus must first deny themselves. What does that mean?
A bit of context is necessary. There is much of what we consider ourselves that is learned behavior. We pick up mannerisms and behaviors as a result of those around us and perhaps the careers we have chosen. Sometimes those behaviors are profitable, other times they are detrimental.
When Jesus said to count the cost, we are to take inventory and weigh what is important. Is what we do going to have any real lasting value?
For some of us, the cost to follow Jesus is just too steep like the rich young ruler. Denying ourselves is awkward, and even scary. It seems as in doing so, we would become lost.
Listen… We are not what we do. That is what the culture I posed upon us from almost every angle. Our identity without Jesus is intricately intertwined with what we do and how we behave. The baggage that comes with that is what keeps us from God. It also keeps us from true freedom.
In denying self is how we love. We do it when we meet someone new and want to please them. We do it for newborns who cannot tend to themselves. We do it for significant others.
This is what Jesus is saying, love Him.
Deny yourself and take up your cross. In other words, stop taking your identity from what you do. Instead, take up your cross. Identify in what He did. Follow Him. That is where our identity changes to Him.
We sing that refrain, I am who You say I am.
If you want to know… He says that we’re forgiven, not forsaken, a child of God, a joint-heir with Jesus, His own people, among other things.
That’s the identity change, denying ourselves and taking on Him. There is salvation and freedom there. Freedom from the bondage of whatever you may have done.
Don’t believe me, believe Him…
For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?Matthew 16:25–26 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)