REV GOH YONG KUANG
And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. - LUKE 14:27 NIV
When people think of the cross today, they think of the church or simply as a symbol of Christianity. For others, the cross is just another fashion accessory. Many people today wear a cross, but Jesus calls us to carry the cross.
When Jesus speaks of “carrying the cross”, He was using an illustration that was common and familiar to the people of those days. The Romans often make a condemned person carry his own cross to the place of execution.
Therefore, when Jesus tells us to carry the cross, He was calling us to die! Of course, Jesus did not mean that all who follow Him must give up their lives (although many Christians throughout the ages have lost their lives as a result of persecution and imprisonment). Following Jesus involves dying to our old nature and desire. To follow Jesus, we must put to death that part of us which resists Him; that part of us that wants to go our own way and pursue our own ambitions. Paul wrote these words in one of his letters:
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. - GALATIANS 5:24 NLT
Luke 14:27 is not the only place that talks about “carrying the cross”. If we go back a few chapters to Luke 9:23, Jesus talked about carrying the cross. In it, He mentioned one more thing, besides carrying the cross.
“If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. - LUKE 9:23 ESV
To “deny” yourself means to “lose sight of yourself or disregard your own interest for the interest of others.”
We deny ourselves when we keep a cheerful spirit and attitude – even though our boss or colleagues are giving us a hard time. We deny ourselves when we forgive instead of seeking revenge on the person who hurt us.
When we choose to follow Jesus, we are denying ourselves the pursuit of the pleasure of this world and the control over our own lives. Even our Lord denied Himself when it was time for Him to die. If given a choice, He would rather not go to the cross. On the night before His arrest, Jesus prayed to the Father in heaven saying:
“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;
nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” - MATTHEW 26:39 ESV
Hence, those who follow Jesus must be prepared to carry the cross and deny themselves - by dying to self and by putting aside their own interests and desire, and to submit to God’s will and desire!