Take Up Your Cross Daily
Chan Gin Kai
Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (Luke 9:21-22)
After Peter correctly declared that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of the Living God (Luke 9:20, Matthew 16:16), Jesus “strictly warned” them not to tell anyone about it. Why would he do that? Didn’t he want everyone to hear the gospel? Of course he did. But the people didn’t understand the concept of the suffering Messiah yet, and neither did his disciples. Before the disciples could preach to others that Jesus was the Messiah, they'll have to know what that meant.
And so Jesus explained to his disciples how he “must suffer many things”, including being rejected and killed. This wasn’t what the disciples or people expected or wanted at all. They wanted a victorious saviour, not a suffering one. Everyone wants a winner, not a loser.
Then came the even tougher part...
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23-26)
So not only would their Messiah be rejected and killed, the disciples would have to be prepared to face the same difficulties and fate too. Jesus said that anyone who wants to become his disciple “must deny themselves and take up their cross daily”.
This is a must, not an option. You’re mistaken if you think this is ‘advanced Christianity’. This is what Jesus expects of ALL his disciples – we are to deny ourselves and take up our cross, daily.
The crowds loved the idea of a Messiah who could heal them and cast out demons. The ability to miraculously feed thousands of them was an added bonus too. And if Jesus could also drive out the Romans for them, that would be perfect.
We too, love the idea of a Messiah who would love us, protect us and bless us. We want him to grant our wishes and fulfil our goals.
Yes, Jesus did heal and feed the crowds. Jesus loves and protects us too. He will also bless us according to his will. But it is his goal that must be fulfilled, not ours. We will have to align our goals to his, and we are expected to deny ourselves as we do so.
Denying ourselves is one of the toughest things to do. We are conditioned by the world to put ourselves first. We try to beat each other academically, in sports, for promotions at work, for attention from the opposite sex, and more. The retail industry is built around buying the next product to sate our wants, and the service industry is all about entertaining and pampering ourselves. Self-help books and gurus preach about discovering better versions of ourselves, finding happiness for ourselves, and everything to do about self.
What Jesus did and expects of us fly in the face of conventional wisdom. He set an example for us by choosing to suffer and die. And we, his disciples, are now called to imitate him. We need to take up the cross and die to our self. In what area do you find it hard to deny yourself? What is the most difficult thing for you to die to?
But Jesus promised that he will be “raised to life” on the third day, and he will come “in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Jesus is no loser. He carried the cross in humiliation, and God raised him in glory, he faced death bravely and emerged victorious.
That’s what God has promised us too. As we deny ourselves and carry our cross, we put our trust in Him, confident that He will raise us up in glory one day too.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".