“And Jesus said to all, ‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.'”
I want you to think about the beginning and the end of this passage, the beginning and the end of this verse. So Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me,” so this is introductory teaching about what it means to follow Jesus. This is not for the mature. This is not for a certain level of Christian. This is for anyone who would call themselves a follower of Jesus. So this is an introduction to what it means to follow him. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” So I emphasize daily because it’s not just an introductory lesson about what it means to follow Jesus. It’s an ongoing lesson about what it means to follow Jesus. The implications here are massive, one, for coming to faith in Jesus. For anyone to come to faith in Jesus means to deny yourself, to die to yourself, take up your cross, to confess your sin before God, to turn from your sin and not just your sin, but from yourself, from your every attempt to earn the favor of God.
Have you died to self and trusted in Christ alone for salvation? “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
This is totally trusting and what Jesus did on the cross. It’s turning from your ways, your desires, your thoughts, saying, “Jesus, I’m dying to all of those things.” This is Galatians 2:20, “I’ve been crucified with Christ, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” This is an entirely new life. This is not just to believe some truths and say a prayer and move on with your life, as you know it. No, this is believe truths, cry out to God in prayer and lose your life as you know it, and not just at the beginning, but every single day to do the exact same thing.
So I want to lead us to pray in two ways. One, I want to ask you, and I’m guessing most people who are listening to this podcast have trusted in Jesus are followers of Jesus in this way, but I don’t want to necessarily assume that. I’m guessing there might be some who are listening to this right now, and you’ve believed certain things about Jesus. Maybe even prayed a prayer, but you’ve never turned from your sin and yourself died to yourself and put all your trust in Jesus as your life. If that’s the case for you, I want to encourage you just right now to let this be the moment.
If anyone would come after Jesus, this is what it means to follow Jesus, just to pray, “Jesus, today I die to myself. I want to turn from my sin, trust in you what you did on the cross for me to pay the price for my sin. I want to pick up my cross. I want to die to myself, my ways, my thoughts, my plans for my future, it’s all yours. I want to die to all those things that are from me and I want to live in you.” For all who would say, “Yes, Jesus is my life,” we say in a fresh way today, “Jesus, we die to ourselves. We don’t want to live today according to our ways and our ideas and our thoughts. We don’t want to speak our words. We don’t want to plan and dream according to our plans or our dreams. We want to live in you fully. We want to die to ourselves today, to trust in you as our life.”
We want to live crucified with Christ today. We no longer live but Christ, you live in us, and the life we live in the flesh, we live by faith in you. So help us we pray, to follow you today, to die to ourselves all day long, to live today in you with you as the Lord of every single detail of our lives. Even as we pray that we praise you for this privilege of following you. We praise you for the joy of following you. We praise you for eternal life that is found in you and not just for the next 10 billion years and we’ll just be getting started, but today. Today we praise you for life in you. So help us to live it to the full in you, dead to ourselves alive in Christ. May that be our story today and tomorrow and the next day and the next day, according to your word on Luke 9:23. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.