Summary: In our text, Christ reveals that to His disciples, there is a different routine to their lives.
"And he said unto them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."
For many, routine is life itself. If the routine is upset in any way, life becomes difficult to handle. For many, their daily routines consist of rising in the morning to a cup of coffee, rushing to shower and get ready for work. Then the kids have to be gotten up, dressed, and fed. Once all is gathered, the children are loaded up, taken to school or day care, and then there the rush into daily employment. Once the whistle blows, rush hour traffic is faced, the kids are picked up and the day is almost spent. However, once home, daily chores are performed, bills must be paid, dinner must be prepared, and any work brought home must be completed. Finally, after all tasks are concluded, it is time to collapse into bed only to wake up and begin it all again the next day.
For the majority, this is life, or at least what they perceive to be life. But in our text, Christ reveals that to His disciples, there is a different routine to their lives. Lets look at our text.
I. We must choose to place Christ in our daily routines.
Notice, Christ stated, "If any man will..." Christ at no point will force Himself upon you. To have Christ in your everyday life is only by your own choice. Your daily routine must be prepared by you with Christ in it. Joshua asked the children of Israel to choose who they would serve. God told the children of Israel in Deuteronomy that He had set before them two choices, life or death, and He gave them the responsibility to choose. If you want Christ to be evident with you in your daily walk through this troublesome life, then you must choose to put Him there.
II. We must choose to place Christ first in our daily routines.
Christ places importance also on the order of our daily routines. Many are guilty of giving God only what is left over after a hard days work. Saturdays also become a day of work such as mowing the lawn, tinkering with the car, working around the house, etc. Then all that is left is Sunday. But come Sunday, fatigue has really set in, so Sunday becomes a day of rest and relaxation, and many just lounge around the house all day.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Most would say, "Well what’s wrong with that?" As far as working is concerned, nothing. God gave specific counsel in Genesis that man would work for six days and on the seventh day he would rest. However, when you look at this routine, where is a place for Jesus?
Jesus stated that if a man would choose Him, then he would willingly place himself in submission to God. We must understand that God is not some cosmic genie or puppet that will be there for our pleasure or our emergencies. God demands headship over all, and if you choose to place God in your life, the only place that He will be willing to reside is at the front.
Work is fine in and of itself, but when work or employment takes precedence over our relationship with Christ, then a change must be made. I can think of two examples in Scripture that give us a wonderful picture of what I am trying to get across. In Matthew 4:18-22, we see that Christ has first come to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. These two were fisherman by trade and were currently at work tending their nets. Christ as He comes to them bids them to follow Him. They agree, and the Bible states that they immediately left their nets and followed Him. Shortly after, Christ comes upon James and John working with their father. These two were brothers that were working for the family business, and like Peter and Andrew, were currently at work when Jesus comes to them. He bids them to come also, and like the two before, they also immediately leave their employment and follow Him.
What about you? Are you willing to place Christ first in your life? I am not talking about lip service, but true commitment to Jesus. Luke 14:33 states, "So likewise, he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
III. We must choose to submit our will to His.
Not only must we choose Christ, and then place Him first in our lives, but we must relinquish any aspect of control over our lives. Jesus stated that the individual must "deny himself." This simply means that the individual gives up all control over his life and places that responsibility into the hands of Christ. It is a refusing of acknowledging oneself. To deny oneself is the practical application of what the Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." For Paul, Christ was the very source of his life. To be in Christ is to die to oneself, and that is the ultimate in self-denial.