“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 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 be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” – Mark 8:34-38
As we walk together on this road to the cross, we walk with Jesus. This is His road and His purpose. It is the only pathway that leads to our reconciliation with our Creator and Father. It is not an easy road. It involves suffering and self denial. It requires a level of commitment that needs to be understood from the very beginning. In today’s Scripture Jesus makes it very clear what it means to follow Him and His expectations are. If we are going to follow Jesus on this road, we need to be all in.
This is probably why Jesus turns His attention to the crowd as well as the disciples when He explains what is required to be a disciple. Being a follower of Jesus…a Christian was never intended to be a mindless act performed by brainwashed robots. Jesus was always challenging those who wanted to follow Him to think and make a choice with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. This is why more did not follow Jesus during His ministry. He was clear that it was all or nothing when choosing to follow Him. We hear it loud and clear in today’s verses. Not only does the road to the cross involve suffering and self sacrifice for Jesus, but also for those who follow Him.
I know. It is uncomfortable. It is against everything that our humanistic, self serving and lost world preaches. To follow Him demands self sacrifice, bearing the cross and following Him…obedience. Jesus also points out that this decision to follow Him must be “unashamed”. Jesus is not looking for disciples who will cower in the shadows afraid of the world’s opinions. He is looking for those who will courageously lay down their life for Him and the Kingdom. The road to the cross is not for the faint hearted. Like this ragtag band of disciples, we will discover that following Jesus will challenge us to the core. It may not always be what we expected, but He will always be with us. We will experience failure but He will be there to pick us up and strengthen us. This is more than a journey…it’s an adventure!
In your prayers today let God know that you want to follow and that you are all in. Ask Him to reveal to you what it means for you to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him.