Jesus said to his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?” (Luke 9:22-25)
Well, that’s pretty challenging on the second day of Lent! Jesus reminds us that if we lose our life for His sake, our life will be saved.
Lose our life? In today’s culture? Sure, sounds as if it is contra to all that society teaches us, right? Aren’t we supposed to be self-sufficient? Aren’t we supposed to climb the ladder of success? Aren’t we supposed to buy into the barrage of advertising that centers on doing things and buying things that make our SELVES more attractive? And then we are supposed to carry a cross?
Yes, and that’s the hard part for many people. That’s usually where we run into our stumbling blocks on being true disciples of Christ. We want Salvation. We want eternal happiness. But we don’t want to have to do anything hard to get there. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say, just be a good person and you’re in. Nowhere does he say, just say a few magic words and you’re in. Nope. He’s always talking about us having to do things. Things like, having faith. Things like living for others. Things like forgiving others.
For those who want to walk with him, Christ’s call is radical and unequivocal. He asks us to “renounce” ourselves. This is a difficult word for the mentality of today. It does not mean that we must deny what we are. We are called to abandon that part of ourselves that goes against the life of Christ and his teachings. With verse 25, we understand clearly that Jesus does not ask us to lose ourselves. He rather invites us to discover our true self by following him. It is not by a lukewarm and lazy attitude, but only with all their heart and all their strength that His disciples can follow the path of the Master.
In fact, if we walk in the footsteps of Christ, now just as at the time of the Apostles, it is inevitable that we will have to have to swim against the tide and, at times, become a “sign of contradiction” in society. For fear of losing face or security, will we turn back before the various obstacles, or move forward with confidence, audacity and the gift of ourselves? It is true that his call is demanding. But to those who give themselves because of Christ and the Gospel, the joy and the rewards promised are offered a hundredfold (see Mark 10:28-30).
And yes, we, too, must take up our crosses and follow Him. Each one of us will have his or her own cross to carry, and that will vary from time to time. Whatever our particular cross we, like Jesus, must lose ourselves in generous self-giving, rather being self-centered in trying to grab as much as possible for ourselves. Serving other people’s interests rather than our own will bring out the very best in us. Each day we must die to sin and rise to new life. That involves repenting for the sin’s we’ve already committed, and then resisting temptations to sin in the future. Following Christ is certainly demanding, but for Jesus and for us the way of the cross leads to eternal happiness and glory. That makes it all worthwhile.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, I give you my hands to do your work. I give you my feet to go your way. I give you my eyes to see as you do. I give you my tongue to speak your words. I give you my mind that you may think in me. I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me, your Father, and all mankind. I give you my whole self that you may grow in me, so that it is you, Lord Jesus, who live and work and pray in me.”
As we enter into this season of Lent it is an opportunity for us think again about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. To think about Jesus’ radical call to discipleship. Not everyone who heard Jesus preach, chose to follow him, many turned away sad and disappointed because they weren’t prepared to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him. The Christian life can be tough and challenging, but it is only when we live in imitation of Jesus that we discover life as it is meant to be lived, because ultimately it is only Jesus who can meet are deepest needs.