A verse you are most likely familiar with is Matthew 16:24. The Bible says, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” We understand here that Jesus is explaining what it means to be His disciple. Have you ever noticed though that there are 3 commandments here: denial, taking up the cross, and following Him? The “denial” here is completely giving to His control. You must deny yourself or there can be no salvation. One must come to self-denial in order to allow the Holy Spirit to work at the moment of a person being saved. Unfortunately, many stop here and rest the remainder of their life. But Jesus said there is more. Next, the part many do not get to is “taking up of the cross”. We cannot be ashamed to preach the gospel. We must be willing to endure shame and suffering if need be for the sake of the gospel. We know the Bible says in Matthew 10:22, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” So, take up your cross! Jesus warned us of the possible result already. It is part of being His disciple. And finally, “Follow Him!” This means to live as He lived with everything that is involved with it. That is, humility, love, compassion, grace and other virtues of Christ. Stowell said it best concerning crosses and cross-bearing. A cross is the suffering, rejection, opposition, and perhaps even death that inevitably comes from claiming Christ as the Savior. Note that a cross is not a project that the follower assumes as a part of a process of following. It is the inevitable consequences of following. Again the focus is not on suffering, but on Christ. Because we claim Him as our Leader, some of the very same dynamics may come into our lives that were part and parcel of His. If the leader takes unfriendly fire, it stands to reason that those who are following will take some as well.¹ So be bold, be strong, take up your cross (daily) and follow Him!
Dr. Richard Dixon