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July 28 Deny yourself, take up a cross, follow Jesus

July 28 Mr8.34 take crossMark 8:34 “Then Jesus called the crowd, along with his disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself *~, take up*~ his cross, and follow~~ me.”

Despite His popularity today, one has to wonder if anybody is listening to what Jesus said. We like a popular, loving, understanding, and forgiving Jesus.

But when He began to talk about His own cross and the surrender of His life for the benefit of others, even Peter rebuked Him! (Mark 8:32).

Peter did not sign up to follow someone who wanted to be crucified! He wanted glory, power, prestige, and control, not a cross. Jesus rebuked him sternly: “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (8:33).

As the crowd gathered, Jesus made the cost of discipleship very clear: “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must immediately decide to deny himself once and for all.” He was not just correcting Peter; he was talking to all His followers, for all time. He drew the line in the sand.

First, if you are going to follow Christ, you must decide once and for all not to pay attention to yourself, to give up self–interest, and, in effect, to go against your pride or profit. Ouch! When have you given up something for Christ? Paul wrote, “Such things that once were gains to me these have I counted loss for Christ” (Phil 3:7).

Second, it was necessary for a disciple to “take up his cross.” The condemned man was forced to carry his own cross to his execution, as Jesus did. But what the convict did under obligation, the disciple of Christ does willingly. He willingly accepts the hurt, embarrassment, shame, and persecution that inevitably will be his lot if he remains loyal to Jesus.

Third, he must “keep on continually following [Jesus].” This means that as Jesus “suffered for us, leaving us an example, we should follow His steps” (1 Pet 2:21), especially by obeying His commands (Jn 15:14).

These three actions indicate a true conversion and why the power and filling of the Spirit is indispensable. Will you give up your life to follow Christ?

“Heavenly Father, following You means I must be willing to give up things, people, or places I may think I need. But I know that, with Your help, I can do whatever You ask me to do and there will be joy in doing it. Thank You.”

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