Summary: To live the christian life
TAKE UP YOUR CROSS
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.
Jesus talks about an attitude towards life – a state of heart - you will find with each one who has received the message of His Salvation. He speaks about those who will follow Him – and that can only be those who has received Him in truth – because the specific will can only be affected by the Gospel.
He does not have such a message to the others. For those it says very simple: “Believe in the Son!”
We are not reading about the salvation itself here, for what it is concerned, the speech about deeds are totally out of the question. The Word is as clear as anyone could wish for when it comes to that! - But Gods Word also speaks about the difference in the reward for the believer. And it speaks about that the believer will continue building on the foundation of Christ, with different kinds of material - someone with noble, others with nothing noble, but even those who build with the kind of material that got burned up in the test, will be saved – though trough fire (1 Cor. 3:11-14).
We human beings became in reality our own gods through the fall! We became self worshippers. It was then we fell for the temptation: “You will become like God,” and therefore naturally live by it. We want to be the biggest, the greatest, most praised and honored etc. If we have to admit to our littleness, it will brake our self-image, our self-esteem etc. This is where it has its reason.
We want to according to our nature, live by ourselves, we want to protect and defend ourselves and our own, make sure that we get all of our needs met and other people will only be tools to achieve this. How can they benefit me? – is the refrain.
Jesus points to a whole different way.
We mentioned that this in itself was not about our salvation, but this thing about living for you, can have that consequence though, that we actually let go of the salvation. Our own will swallow up everything at the end. We see an example in the Word by Demas for example, he who was one of Paul’s close companions - Paul brings a sad report about him: “- for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.” (2Tim. 4:10).
Paul points at the same as what Jesus points to – that love for this world – which has its reason in our inborn nature and cannot live side by side with the life in God, with any good results. No, you must deny yourself, Jesus says, - something that is almost gone in the preaching these days, and we have therefore more and more a Christian people who wants to have everything of what this world has to offer, with heaven in sight.
But what the Word speaks about is that the heavenly life starts here and now. You can take part in it now! This is exactly what Jesus sacrifice has given us access to. But not as all of those who preach in the so called glory theology. That only opens up for the natural humans desires – to achieve a paradise here on earth. No, it speaks of owning a life in God, here and now and to grow in it. “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,” (Heb. 10:19), and “(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” (Heb. 7:19). This is to follow Jesus! Believing in Him, and by that drawing near to God! That is to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18), and this hardly brings you to a paradise existence, concerning the earthly things, in this world, but rather to adversity and suffering of different kinds.
But this growth in - and approach to - God, cannot happen unless you at the same time deny your own. That is why we have Jesus’ word – must. “He must deny himself” (v.24). But you cannot live a life like that and live to achieve your own “dreams” at the same time. You have to choose here.