THE 3-STEP GUIDE
Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me,
he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Eight days before the Lord’s transfiguration, Jesus had an interesting private time with his disciples. After Peter’s personal confession that Jesus is the Christ of God, the Lord gave them a warning and an instruction along with it.
First they were commanded to not tell anything about it as He revealed to them what must be done to the Son of Man. That He is to suffer, be killed and on the third day be raised to life. That was the warning.
The instruction was, “Follow me”. However, He gave a sort of 3 step guide on following Him. 2 pre requisite before the ultimate instruction “Follow me”. So what did Jesus say? First, deny yourself. Second, take up your cross daily. Finally, follow me.
Step one: Deny yourself.
I like the NLT translation of this verse. It says “Turn from you selfish ways.” The word waysemphasizes that it is not a one-time event. The discipline of following Christ does not begin and end at the altar with a simple prayer of renouncement to your old self. It is a day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second denying of one’s self. Ever since the fall of man, the world has been offering us things that would disconnect us from our dependence on God. The snake tempted Adam and Eve to be like God. It was not just the fruit that was pleasing to the eye. It was the idea that they can live their life without the help of God. And it was not just their stomach that was fed. That was the day man’s selfish desire was fed. You see, denying of yourself means exactly that.
Denial of everything that would feed my selfish desires, all of which disconnect me from my dependence to God. The world offers me pride? To be glorified apart from God’s approval? Deny! Satan offers me lust? To receive temporary pleasure apart from God? Deny! Satan offers me worldly riches with treasure that rusts and vanishes? Treasure to be valued more than God? Deny! But that would mean to turn against myself. That’s hard! And so here comes the cross.
Step two: Take up your cross daily.
To deny myself is difficult. Of course it’s difficult! The cross is supposed to be difficult! But isn’t it easier to transfer the weight of something heavy to someone stronger, more capable of carrying that burden? It is wise and only natural for a five year old kid to ask his father to refill the water dispenser with a gallon of water so he can have a refreshing glass of it. Else he will find himself dehydrated for not being able to carry that gallon all by himself. Who else can best help you carry your cross than the one who carried it and triumphed over it? Let our Lord’s invitation encourage us in carrying our cross:
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Step three: Follow me.
So we have this amazing conclusion: The harder it is to deny ourselves from our selfish desires, the easier it is to just throw off the towel in complete surrender, & cling to God. Jesus, our ultimate goal, is also our Sustainer and Strength. This is why He had to suffer so much. This is why He had to carry the cross. So that in time that we would carry ours, we would find strength in Him.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, following Jesus is sweet and liberating! It is never a heavy burden. His yoke is easy, his burden is light!