The Gospel according to Matthew (16:24-28)
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”
Reflection: There is a very important word in this statement of Jesus. It’s the word “must.” Note that Jesus did not say that some of you may have to follow me by carrying your cross. No, He said that whoever wishes to follow me must…
So the first question should be easy to answer. Do you wish to follow Jesus? In our heads that’s an easy question. Sure!, of course we do. But this is not a question we can answer only with our heads. It must be also answered by our choice to do what Jesus said was a necessity. Namely, wishing to follow Jesus means denying yourself and taking up your cross. So, how do you wish to follow Him?
Hopefully, your answer was “Yes.” Hopefully, we resolved deeply to embrace all that is involved in following Jesus. But that’s no small commitment. Sometimes we fall into the foolish trap of thinking that we can “kinda” follow Him here and now and that all will be fine and we’ll certainly get into Heaven when we die. Maybe that’s true to a certain extent, but if that’s our thinking then we’re missing out on what life is all about and all that God has in store for us.
Denying yourself and taking up your cross is actually a far more glorious life than we could ever come up with on our own. It’s a blessed life of grace and the only path to ultimate fulfillment in life. Nothing could be better than completely entering into a life of total self-sacrifice by dying to ourselves and following Jesus!
Action of the Day: Reflect, today, on whether or not you are willing to say “Yes” to the question posed. Are you willing to apply it not only with your head, but also with your whole life? Are you willing to embrace the life of sacrifice to which Jesus is calling you? What does that look like in your life? Say “Yes,” today, tomorrow and every day through your actions and you’ll see glorious things take place in your life.