18 While He was praying in private and His disciples were with Him, He asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 They answered, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, that one of the ancient prophets has come back.” 20 “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah !” 21 But He strictly warned and instructed them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes , be killed, and be raised the third day.” 23 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. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. 25 What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and that of the Father and the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth: There are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Yesterday you read in John 10 that Jesus set the example of sacrifice by laying down His life for us. As we become more like Christ, we too should begin laying down our lives for others.
In today’s passage, Jesus instructs His followers to take up their cross daily and follow Him. Do you notice a connection? If we do not willingly lay down our lives, how will we have free “hands” with which to take up our cross?
Laying down your life and taking up your cross both require sacrifice. Laying down your life involves giving up what you want, whether that be your career choice, how you spend your free time, or even moving toward your goals and dreams for the future.
Taking up your cross involves accepting the life God wants to give you. His Word promises that the life He gives will be abundant (John 10:10), but also that it will be hard (John 16:33). Every day, you and I have the choice to hold on to the life we want for ourselves, or to lay it down and pick up our cross—the difficult, sacrificial action of choosing to obey when God calls us to do challenging, uncomfortable things.
Jim Elliot, missionary to the Auca Indians, once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
It often looks and feels foolish to give up what we value in order to accept a difficult life we don’t want, but choosing to lay down our temporarily comfortable life in order to embrace the temporarily difficult action of walking in obedience to Christ will result in eternal rewards. That doesn’t mean that by doing sacrificial things, we can earn salvation. Salvation is a free gift from God—not as a result of any sacrifice we could ever make! However, when we choose to lay down our life and pick up our cross, our obedience will result in blessings we can’t imagine, and may very well change the eternal future of those whom God calls us to love.
- What part(s) of your life are most difficult for you to lie down and give up to Jesus?
- Ask God to give you a willing heart to sacrificially lay down what you value most in obedience to Him.
- Prayerfully consider what sacrificial action God is asking of you, and then choose to obey.