Summary: We must bear in mind that there’s no shortcut to Calvary and to Heaven. There’s only one way, that is denying yourself and following Jesus Christ.
Whoever wants to follow the Lord and becomes a disciple pays a great price. As believers we have five callings. First, we were called to salvation. Then we became babes in Christ born with a new spirit of obedience. As we progressed we are called to be members of the body of Christ, then we become disciples until we become workers in the spirit. Jesus calculated for us the cost of discipleship. Verse 23 says, "deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me." As we follow the Lord, we have a price to pay.
I. What is the down payment in following the Lord? Self-denial. You do the will of God and deny yourself.
It’s more than abstention from worldly pleasure. It is doing the things that are pleasing in the eyes of God.
To deny one’s self is to disown; to renounce our very selves and our will in favour of God and His will. It means doing self-correction and improvement that brings results.
Self-denial is not the same as asceticism where people go to the mountain to isolate themselves from society and shut out the worldcompletely.
elf-denial is disclaiming all rights to self-determination. Only God has patented rights on us; and as we do His will we will become pleasing to Him.
"You are not your own, you are bought with a price therefore glorify God in your body."
Jesus does not want us to bear burdens as He said: "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest." He wants us to bear a cross.
What is cross-bearing? Cross-bearing is dying to self. Your self-will, your personality, spirit and attitude will die and only Jesus will be seen in your life.
No matter how heavy the weight of the cross you’re bearing, but if you have not yet died to yourself and your old self is still seen because of your old attitude, it’s useless. It’s not the cross’ weight but its significance that matters.
What’s the significance of the cross? Death to self. What is heavy is your self-weight. You must die to yourself. One that carries a cross is a condemned man. Crucify yourself. Nail yourself on the cross not only in words but in deeds. All your old self will die. Your failures and mediocrity will be gone.
Christians have to die to self in order to live for Christ. We must have thelife of Christ in our spirit.
II. What is the daily expense of following the Lord?
III. What is the decisive price in following the Lord?
Following the Lord Jesus Christ is more than following His teachings and examples. Following Christ means going where He leads us. When He said this, He was on His way to Calvary. That means pain and death.
IV. What is the destined pay-off in following the Lord?
When you carry your cross, crucify yourself on it and die then the life of Jesus Christ will be in you. You will lose your life but there you’ll find it. Lose your life and you’ll find it. Find it and you’ll lose it. Fulfilment is found in following the Lord Jesus Christ. If discipleship has a high price, it even pays greater dividends.