Scripture: If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Observations:

  • Come after: could mean to pursue, seek, or follow Jesus, like the crowds just a few verses before who sought Him out in the wilderness while He was trying to be alone. Or it could mean to arise, have influence, become known after Jesus is resurrected from the dead. Like how John the Baptist, Elijah, and the prophets of old were known. They were referred to immediately preceding this comment from Jesus. I think this verse is commonly understood to mean seeking after/pursuing Jesus, but in the context of the conversation, it might make more sense to mean having influence/being known after Jesus has ascended to heaven.
  • Deny himself, take up cross daily, and follow Me: Three step process for anyone who wants to come after Jesus. Can’t do just one of them, it has to be all three. Deny – is the same word used for when Peter denied his acquaintance with Jesus three times. Denying yourself is not denying things of God, like rest, boundaries, or commitments. We’re not called to die for everyone else – that was Jesus’s job. Daily – taking up our respective crosses is a day-by-day choice. Everyone has their own cross (we’re not meant to daily bear others’ crosses). Follow me: same invitation Jesus gave the disciples and numerous others throughout the Gospel who chose not to follow Him but to attend to matters of this world first.

Application: To be more like Christ, with Christ, or have greater Kingdom influence, I must daily make a commitment to:

  • deny myself (my association with myself, my pride/face saving ways, my selfishness, my fleshly desires),
  • take up my cross (willingly enduring the cost for loving others, the price of being wrongly accused, punished, treated poorly without reacting in a sinful way; e.g., enduring challenges and frustrations at work without complaining, gossipping, getting a sour attitude) and
  • follow Him (commit to being His disciple daily, learning from Him for He is gentle and lowly in heart, and prioritizing Him and my relationship with Him above all the to-dos of the world and the tyranny of the urgent; e.g., practicing my Jesus “smoke breaks” and spending increasing time with Him).