Matthew 16:24–25: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.'”

October 13th, 2018 by Pastor Ed in devotional

Some of the things Jesus taught were so simple they did not need explanation. This phrase “take up his cross” had instant and vivid meaning to those living in that day. A couple of decades earlier, after the revolt that followed the death of Herod the Great, more than 2000 Jews were crucified outside Jerusalem by the Roman proconsul Varus. So those listening to Jesus were acutely aware of what a cross was and what it meant. Crucifixion was a horrible and excruciating way to die. There was no mistaking that taking up a cross meant certain death. Your life was over the moment the cross became your destiny. Jesus was saying that once we choose to follow Him, it will cost us everything—our plans, resources, time, and desires.

German Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his book, The Cost of Discipleship, about the danger of cheapening God’s grace by not personally accepting the cross:

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Bonhoeffer understood that following Jesus and embracing the cross meant death to self. The cross demands all, and if we want to follow Him, we have no other choice. But it doesn’t end there, as Jesus promised, “whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 17:25). Jesus doesn’t ask us to lay down everything just so we can have nothing. He wants us to lay down everything so He can fill us with Himself. And He is infinitely more fulfilling than all our plans and desires.

“LORD, we want to follow You. We lay everything down again today at the foot of the cross—everything. Fill us to overflowing with Your Spirit.”