Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34
Here we get to the heart and essence of the Christian religion. First there is Jesus’ amazing honesty. No one can say that they followed Jesus because of false promises he made. Jesus never tried to bribe people by offering them an easy path. He didn’t promise people, but glory. Telling someone to take up a cross is the same as telling them to die like a criminal.
Secondly, we find Jesus never demanded people to do what he wouldn’t do himself. This is the true character of a great leader of people. Thirdly, Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me.” Simply and literally this means saying no to yourself and yes to Christ. You must say no to your own natural of love of comfort. You must say no to every path of self-love and selfish ambition. You must say no to all the instincts and desires that lure you to touch and taste forbidden things. You must answer Jesus’ voice and commands with an unmistakable yes. You must be able to say like Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. (Galatians 2:20) You don’t live to follow your own anymore, but to follow and obey Jesus’ will. One finds perfect freedom in this service.
Grace and Peace to You My Friends