I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
If you truly want to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, then He requires your allegiance above anyone and anything else. Second, to be a disciple demands a willingness to die. Look at Luke 14:27: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Today, some Christians romanticize the cross. They wear it as a decoration. Did you know the cross was never used as a decoration for the first four hundred years of church history? The reason was the cross was something horrible. It was an instrument of torture.
Other people trivialize the cross. They use the phrase “carrying your cross” to mean going through something unpleasant or inconvenient. People say, “This is my cross to bear,” and they could be referring to anything from allergies to an obnoxious mother-in-law.
In Jesus’s day, the cross meant one thing: execution. If you saw someone going through the streets of Jerusalem carrying a cross, you knew that person was on his way to his own death. And that is how Jesus was using the term here. To be a disciple means having a willingness to die.
What kind of death was Jesus talking about? Was Jesus saying that to be a disciple, you have to be willing to give up your life? Would God ever require that of us? Maybe. Did you know that there were more martyrs for Christianity in the twentieth century than there were in the first century? Those of us who live in the United States do not understand that because we are not suffering the intense persecution that other Christians are suffering right now. But I think there is a time coming when we, too, will have to be willing to give up our lives for the cause of Christ.
But I think Jesus was talking about more than just physical death. In the original language, the term “carry his own cross” has a sense of continuous action–“keep on carrying his cross.” You can only give up your physical life once, so what does it mean to keep on dying? I think Jesus was talking about a willingness to die to your desires every day. To become a disciple, you have to be willing to give up your hopes, your dreams, and your aspirations for the cause of Christ. As Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Becoming Salty Saints” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org