“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” -Luke 9:23
The passage before us defines what true love toward Christ looks like. It is not in beautiful speeches or public vows made for all to hear but in the simple decision made from the heart to surrender to Jesus.
ANY MAN opens the door for all to come in. His love and forgiveness is open to all who will receive it. The gift of salvation is within reach to all that will accept it. Jesus knew we all have sinned and come short of His glory. His death on Calvary paved the way for the most wicked sinner to be washed clean and acceptable in the sight of all might God.
He said if any man WILL. Therein lies the choice. Just as we have the ability and God given freedom to embrace His gift, we can also refuse it. Jesus is a Gentleman and though He offers liberty to all, He also forces none to receive it. We choose to enter His eternal life, or we choose to deny Him lordship and suffer the penalty of our own sins.
Those that chose to accept are told to DENY THEMSELVES. This may sound cruel until we understand that intent of the command. Jesus does not want us to lose who we are but bring our selfish worldly nature into subjection to the leadership of the Spirit of God. In doing so we can find peace and joy the world cannot offer. Denial of self opens the door to abundant blessings from above.
He then describes our walk as TAKING UP A CROSS. Daily we must become less like the world and more like Christ. It is not easy or achieved quickly but with every new day we draw closer to perfect Jesus. Nothing worth having comes without a cost. Giving up the world to gain Christ holds no comparison.
Finally, He says to FOLLOW. Follow as a child would a father. Follow as a lamb would trust his shepherd. Follow even though you cannot see the path ahead trusting the One that holds you hand knows the way.