What Does it Mean to Take Up Your Cross? (Luke 9:23)
In Luke 9:23 Jesus said: “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
However what does it mean to take up your cross? What does it mean to deny yourself?
What Does it Mean to Deny Yourself & Take Up Your Cross?
In ancient times, the cross was originally a method by which a slave or criminal was executed or crucified.
Crucifixion was often a long, horrible, agonizing and torturous method of execution for any person who was nailed to a cross.
When Jesus spoke in Luke 9:23 that we should take up our cross, this was obviously before Christ Himself physically took up a cross and was then crucified.
So in ancient times, the cross represented death, execution and sacrifice. Therefore any person who took up his cross knew that he was going to die or lose his own life.
In the Bible there are scriptures which similarly urge us to crucify the flesh or our sin nature pertaining to our daily relationship with Christ.
Therefore the concept of denying yourself and taking up your cross to follow Jesus means the following:
1. You have to be willing to die to your old sinful nature / the flesh
Galatians 5:24 says: Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Colossians 3:5 says: Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.
2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT says: This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2. You have to be willing to die to your own self-interests and self-ambitions
Luke 9:24-25 says: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”
Philippians 3:7-8 says: But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
3. You have to be willing to decrease while Christ increases in your life
Galatians 2:20 says: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
John 3:30 says: He must increase, but I must decrease.
4. Your own personal will has to die so that the will and plan of God takes over
1 John 2:17 says: And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Romans 12:2 says: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
5. You have to be willing to face insults & persecution of all kinds for the sake of Christ
2 Timothy 3:12 says: Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted
In John 15:20 Jesus says: Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours.
1 Peter 4:12-14 says: Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
In Romans 12:1 we are urged to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice”. This indicates that the Christian life is one which consists of a dedication to God which involves constantly dying to the self.
So to follow Jesus Christ means that we surrender and submit our life to Christ and allow Jesus to control and lead our life as Lord and Saviour.
According to Luke 9:23 Jesus says that we should take up our cross daily or everyday. So it should be a daily culture as Christians, that we should die to the daily temptations, the worldly culture and our own sin nature / flesh which competes for our attention in order to draw us away from God.
In 1 Corinthians 15:31 Paul says that he dies every day for the sake of Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:31 says: I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!
Therefore taking up your cross daily means being committed to Christ even to the extent that you may need to give up your personal passions, personal dreams, self-ambition and even your very life if need be for the cause of Jesus Christ.
It is never an easy thing to deny yourself and take up your cross. However the grace of God and the Helper, the Holy Spirit is there to lead and guide us during the course of our life (Galatians 5:16-25).
To follow Jesus means that your life is no longer about you – with you in control. Instead your life now belongs to Christ and your life is about Jesus Christ alone and Him reigning in your life.
DO YOU WANT TO BE A CHRISTIAN or A FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST?
Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
This means that we have all broken God’s laws and God’s 10 Commandments like those mentioned in Exodus 20:1-17.
For example, if you’ve told a lie; if you have stolen something; if you have lusted after somebody or if you have coveted. This means you are guilty of breaking at least one or more of God’s 10 Commandments. Breaking God’s commandments makes us sinners. The fact that we are sinners who have broken God’s law or commandments means that we are accountable to God who is the Lawgiver.
Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death BUT the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”
So you must acknowledge that you are a sinner who has broken God’s commandments and that you therefore need Jesus in your life.
Luke 13:3 says: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish”
Acts 3:19 says: “Repent therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out”
Repenting means: to change your mind; a sincere turning away, in heart, mind and action;
Therefore God wants you to change your mind about sinful values and of sinful living. God wants you to decide to follow Him and to make Jesus the Lord of your life.
Romans 10:9 says: “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”
1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
God is a forgiving God. God will forgive any sin that you have done because Jesus died for ALL your sins and to set you free from the bondage of all types of sin in your life.
John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”
You must believe that ONLY Jesus can save you and restore your relationship with God. You must believe that Jesus is the ONLY way by which you can have everlasting life and escape from eternal separation from God. You must believe that Jesus died on the cross for you and resurrected from the grave.
John 1:12 says: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name”
By faith you must receive Jesus as your Lord & Savior and therefore; you become a child of God; you become born again; you become a Christian; you restore your broken relationship with God
Why Not Make Your Eternal Decision NOW?
We become born again Christians by GRACE through FAITH or TOTAL TRUST in Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior (Galatians 3:26) & (Ephesians 2:8,9). Salvation is a FREE gift received through FAITH in Christ.
PLEASE NOTE: You can choose to pray in your own words. This prayer is a sample prayer and it is only an EXPRESSION of your faith, belief & trust in Jesus. Salvation is by GRACE through FAITH or BELIEVING in Christ Jesus as your Lord & Saviour.
“Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your love. I thank You that You died on the cross for me and resurrected so that I may have eternal life through You.
I confess Lord that I have sinned against You and broken your laws and commandments. Today I ask You to forgive me of all of my sins, past present and future.
Today I repent and I’ve decided to follow You. Thank You for forgiving all my sins.
From this moment, come into my life Lord Jesus & take full control of my life. I want to follow You Jesus and I want to follow Your ways. Save me and from today, make me a new creation in Christ.
I receive You Lord Jesus right now by faith. I trust You as my Lord and Savior – Amen”
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