A 40 Day Journey to Becoming Like the One We Follow
Day 13: Self-Denial (Mark 8:34-37)
Jesus was not surprised by the cross. Think about that. In every Gospel account we read about Jesus predicting his own death, knowing full well what would take place. He knew his path led to the cross, and he invites us on the journey.
Yeah, take up your cross – like the enemy of the state that you are – and follow me as we walk towards our crucifixion site.
Um, are you sure about this, Jesus? What about all those blessings we’ve been promised by God if we just keep all his commands? Good people aren’t supposed to suffer like that. You want me to give up my beloved possessions? Sure. Coffee? Maybe. Leave my country behind? That’s a big ask, but I’ll go wherever you send me.
But here’s the thing. Jesus didn’t say, “Let him deny himself ____________.” It isn’t any thing we are denying, but it’s our very self. Our identity. Our individuality. Our ego. There is nothing in this world worth clinging to so tightly that we miss the greater life God has planned for us.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who would ultimately be executed for speaking out against the Nazis, said it simply: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
In Revelation we see a group of saints who were victorious and overcame “by the blood off the lamb and the word of their testimony.” I love what it says next: “They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
Jesus doesn’t call us to go anywhere he hasn’t already been. That includes the cross. If we surrender our lives to him, we will find a more abundant, satisfying, glory-filled life than we could ever imagine.