Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus

For May 5, 2019
While at Caesarea Philippi, our Lord Jesus Christ assured us He would provide a firm foundation for His universal Church, which would withstand all assaults. Later, He challenges us by saying:

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Matthew 16:24-26 (NIV)

Living in luxury and possessing the means to buy the newest “toy” on the market is something many of us desire in this modern, “instant gratification” society, where we take pleasure in providing for our personal enjoyment and comfort.

But in our acquisition of material things, we experience an emptiness paradox whereby no matter how tantalizing, acquiring power, influence and possessions seem to us at the moment. None of these things can satisfy our deep spiritual yearnings as does a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

In addition, none of us can have true fellowship with the Lord and pursue the things of this world simultaneously, just as Matthew 6:24 (NIV) teaches:

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Ultimately, we cannot take our “toys” with us. When we die, we can no longer experience what this world has to offer…it’s gone forever! Then our “reality” becomes eternal as we look directly into the face of our Omnipotent, Holy, Creator—stripped of everything we amassed in this life. Our destiny then becomes blissful fellowship with the Lord, or agonizing separation from the Lord.

We must live a life that is totally committed to serving the Lord Jesus Christ daily. In other words, He must become more than just a historical figure to us. He must become our real, personal Savior and Lord we desire to follow and obey forever.

Such a life is filled with indescribable peace, joy and fulfillment. Because no one but Jesus Christ loves us so deeply, gives of Himself so freely, and whose Spirit keeps us so completely in this life and the next. We pursue Him because He delivered us from a life of sin and presents us before the Father as our everlasting:

Advocate, Alpha and Omega, Bridegroom, Deliverer, Faithful and True Witness, Lord and God, Good Shepherd, Great God and Savior, Great High Priest, Hope of Glory, I Am, Eternal Judge, Friend, King of Glory, Lamb of God, Light of the World, Physician, Prince of Peace, Prophet, Ransom, Redeemer, Resurrection and Life, Righteous Judge, Rock, Ruler of Kings, Savior, True Vine, Truth, Way, and Word of God.

Our Lord wants us to pursue excellence in this life in our personal and social endeavors. Nevertheless, He must be at the center of all these things. If we  are to follow the Lord, let us deny ourselves take up our crosses and follow Him faithfully.