“Then He said to [them] all, ‘If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)
Just before Jesus said “if anyone wants to come with Me,” He warned them that He was going to suffer “many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.” The operative word here is “suffer.” There was not a promise of perpetual tranquility for those who wish to be Jesus’ disciple, but rather a prediction of suffering.
The idea behind “take up your cross” is one of suffering and burdens. This expression essentially means to bear your burdens. Jesus told them the burdens He was to bear so they would understand what to expect if they followed Him. Taking up His cross, so to speak, would lead Him to the cross.
To follow Jesus, we are thus called to lay aside our own willfulness in order to pursue God’s will and to bear whatever burdens must be borne in order to follow Him faithfully. Daily.
Discipleship is daily. We don’t have days off from discipleship. Each day is a new day for us as His disciples, a day of new opportunity to walk with God, to serve and love others, and – if necessary – suffer for His sake. Each new day, therefore, calls for its own intentionality of commitment.
Lord, As we consider today and the days ahead, help us to be fully aware of Your call for intentionality in our commitment to You, and may we each follow You faithfully, being aware of the cost and willing to pay it. Amen.