Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mk 8:34-35).
C.T. Studd believed Jesus when he was 18 years old. He backslided for six years. He relates: “Instead of going and telling others of the love of Christ, I was selfish and kept the knowledge to myself. The result was that gradually my love began to grow cold, and the love of the world began to come in. I spent six years in that unhappy backslidden state.”
The Apostle Paul says, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Following Jesus with one loaf, with what you have
Twelve disciples of Jesus got into a boat, and realized that they had forgotten to bring bread. They had only one loaf of bread in the boat (Mar 8:14-21). Jesus reminded them that He had provided for the multitudes on two occasions. On both occasions there were left over of broken pieces of bread.
Paul advises, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19).
Be content with what you have and with whatever spiritual gifts Christ has bestowed on you. Along the way, He will provide you with all that you need and develop your latent spiritual gifts as you grow in service for Jesus and the gospel.
Following Jesus with two conditions (Mark 8:34-35)
Jesus gives two conditions to all who want to follow Him: deny himself and take up his cross
- “Deny himself” means “to deny one’s personal ambitions, desires and so on. Jesus explains with this truth, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (Jn 12:24). He adds, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5b). Without self-denial you cannot trust Jesus fully. Consequently you cannot follow Him the way He wants you to go. On the contrary you will end up going the way you yourself wants to go.
- “Take up his cross” means “take up your own cross daily” (Lk 9:23). It also means “bear his own cross” (Lk 14:27). You need to identify with Jesus and speaking up for the gospel. Then you can understand the God’s will to save souls that are in danger of eternal damnation. Then you can appreciate the need for patient sowing of the gospel seeds with tears and watering with persevering prayers. Then you can understand the rejection, the suffering, the reproach that Jesus and His disciples endured. If you do not take up your own cross daily, you will be defeated by your own sins and yield to worldliness. The cross is God’s power not only for your own salvation, it also for your own maturity. Take up your own cross daily for victorious Christian living.
Do you find it hard to carry your cross daily? Do you put it down occasionally? Look to Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of your faith. He will give you strength from day to day by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. And you can say, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).
Elder Yoong Yuen Soo