Then He shows them that, if they would follow Him, their path also would be one of suffering, for He said to them all, " If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Now this is no light thing. We may deny ourselves hosts of pleasures, and yet not deny ourselves.
To let self go is the last thing we want to do. It means real suffering to refuse ourselves,- but we cannot follow Christ truly unless we deny ourselves.
Yea, more, for the Lord added, take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Christ took up His cross willingly for the glory of God and in His love for us, that He might die for us, and we are called to follow Him.
But we cannot take up His cross—we are not called to do so, nor could we.
We are called to take up our own. Each man has his own cross to take up.
Men were not crucified on the same tree. Each had a tree or cross to himself, and had to carry it to the place of crucifixion.
Your cross is not mine, nor mine yours, but every disciple has to carry his own cross. This must mean suffering and shame here, and even mortal death.
If a man was seen carrying his cross, every one knew that he was considered not fit to live.
This is the place the world will give us if we are true in following Christ, and we have ourselves also to take that place as being in ourselves not fit to live.
The cross represents the end of man. That is why we read in Romans 6 "Our old man is crucified with him. that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."
Also Galatians v. 24 says : "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." This we are called to do practically every day—not to spare the flesh, but to deny ourselves, and that without anybody knowing it perhaps in this world.
If we sought to get a name for it, and to be thought something of for our self-sacrifice or self-denial, it would not any longer be carrying our cross, but the very opposite.
It is a great test for us to do this every day. A man might be willing to do some heroic deed for Christ once and for all, and perhaps lay down his life, but to do this daily, week by week and year by year, for many a long year, this is where the test comes in.
But the Lord is sufficient for us and can enable us to do that which He encourages us and bids us to do.
He said moreover, that whosoever desires to save his life shall lose it, but that whosoever should lose his life for Christ's sake should save it.
He would find life in a far better way, above and beyond this world, and he would gain far more than all that could be got in this world.
Besides in what way would a man be advantaged if he should gain the whole world and lose himself or be cast away?
For in any case he would lose the whole world after gaining it, for he could not keep it, nor take it with him when he dies.
~T. Austin Sparks~