In Luke 9:23, Jesus says that if we are to follow Him, each of us must “…take up his cross daily and follow…”. But what does that actually mean. Think of the timing of this statement. The disciples would of course understand the reference to a “cross” as being a cruel and harsh punishment delivered by the Romans. But they still have no idea that Jesus is about to end up on the cross Himself. Which is ironic since just a moment before this statement, Jesus also uttered these words in v.22 saying “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Now of course He didn’t mention the cross specifically but He did “again” foretell His death and resurrection.
But what is the cross to His followers. Certainly it is not a physical cross. Jesus died in our place. With our sins, we were deserving of death on the cross ourselves. But Jesus took that punishment in our place. Then, in conquering death three days later, He forever abolished the need for sacrifice, for the ultimate sacrifice has been paid once and for all. When He uttered the words “it is finished”, He meant the final price has been paid. We would not be required to pay ANY price, just simply accept His free gift of grace and salvation.
The cross represented the ending of a life. Jesus, by being willing to take the punishment and lay on the cross (knowing full well He was in control), He willingly laid His life down so the Father’s will could be fulfilled. It is that act of willingly laying down a life that Jesus is referring to. Of course He did not mean to physically pick up a cross (especially daily), but to willingly lay down our own life, our own ambition, our own desires… daily.
Why daily? Because our own flesh is weak. Just because we have a moment of strength one day to willingly lay down our life for Him, doesn’t mean we’re done. We must repeat that process daily, for without that effort, our own desires and ambitions will creep back again. Daily we must make a conscious act to lay our own life mission down and be ‘submissive’ to His will.
Lord, I pray now and daily, that when my flesh is weak, you stir your Holy Spirit inside me to strengthen me. It’s easy to follow my own will. It’s easy set my own goals and strive for them, but I ask for the strength to DAILY lay down my life for you.