What A Man Says
The Bible clearly tells us that we are saved by grace through faith. There is nothing that we can do to earn salvation. At the same time, Jesus gave us some very specific instruction related to salvation that we need to be aware of and we also need to use to exam our own lives.
In today’s scripture, we pick up with Jesus giving instruction to His disciples. He is talking to them about His own death in the preceding verses and telling them about what they are going to be called to do for the Kingdom. The particular sentence in today’s passage carries tremendous weight and should not be taken lightly. First off, Jesus says ‘whoever wants to be my disciple’. I believe we can take two things away from this, there are going to be those who desire to be His disciple, and also those who do not. We will each have to decide for ourselves if we will seek to be His disciple. After this, Jesus uses a very important word, ‘must’. This word means that what is coming next is not negotiable. This is not something that is up for debate or something that we could overlooked. It is an absolute requirement in order for the first to be true.
So what is it then that we ‘must’ do in order to be His disciple? We must first deny ourselves. In the context of this verse and the conversation that Jesus is having, He is specifically talking about our flesh. We must not seek to satisfy the desires of our worldly flesh. We must not allow the temptations of this world to rule in our lives and do what our flesh tells us we should do. This statement tells us what we must not do, but Jesus continues on to give us instruction on what it is that we should in fact do. Jesus says that we must take up our cross and follow Him. Jesus not only told us what we must do, but He demonstrated it through His own life. When He literally took up the cross, He was choosing obedience to His Father and love for each of us over the temptations and desires of the flesh and world. This is exactly what He has called each of us to do, to deny the desires of the flesh and instead, seek to do the will of the Father and love our neighbor.
So what does this mean for us? We must take a look at our own lives and exam ourselves. It is very easy to say that we are disciples of Christ, but the way that we live our lives will tell us and all those around us if we are sincere in that statement or not. Are we ultimately seeking to satisfy our own flesh, or to follow the Lord?