“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross DAILY, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23
There is “daily bread” and God’s mercies, which are new “every morning,” and there is also a DAILY cross. What does this mean? It means a taking of a position of faith, based upon the truth in Christ, as it applies to us personally. The greatest and most formidable enemy to following Christ is “self.” This is why the first thing the Lord Jesus addresses, as a condition to following Him, is the “denial” of self, that turning away from, and refusal to consider oneself. It actually means “forgetting” oneself as the center, means, and objective of living. Christ will have us occupied with Him, living for His glory according to His good and perfect will, and this, by the power of His Holy Spirit.
The second prerequisite to follow Christ is taking up of a cross. The cross is an instrument of death, and if there was ever a picture of the seriousness, and solemnity of choosing to follow Christ, it is this picture of the cross…our cross. It goes further than the denial of self, to the very crucifixion of self…and all that is not of Christ. Paul would write: “I AM crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live but Christ that lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20) The cross means that we belong to another, that we are NOT our own. We have chosen to live for God’s purpose and objectives, by the means which He has supplied, His living word, and the life-giving Spirit.
What about taking a position of faith? To purpose in our hearts to follow Christ means that there must be the daily exercise of taking our position of denial of self, and taking up of the cross. This is truly great news, for with God’s commands comes the capacity to obey. Look at what we are delivered FROM, in order to follow Christ, our Lord and Shepherd…the rule of sin, self, Satan, and the world. And look at what we are delivered TO … fellowship with the One who is “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace.” But why DAILY? It is simply because, we have a tendency to forget, or to let slip that attitude that we must have, and maintain. Christ is known by His ways. To forget those ways is to “wander” here and there, without truly following Him. The one who daily takes his position, and this, trusting the Holy Spirit of God for grace to do so, will quietly look away from himself, set himself not to look back or around him at that which is not of Christ. He shall then be able to set his eyes on the Lord Jesus, who has loved us and given Himself for us.
Dear Father, Thy mercies are new every morning, as is the opportunity to love and serve Thee. Give us grace to quietly, and yet, whole-heartedly, look unto Jesus, engaged and committed to run this race set before us. Anoint, and quicken us by Thy Spirit, to live this life of faith every day, having set the Lord before us…for Thy pleasure, and His glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.