Deny yourself and carry your cross

(Akshay Ghorpade ) #1

I was struck by the plethora of diversity in the views of most of the leading Christian preachers and speakers on this most pivotal of questions.
What was Jesus really saying here, when your read this passage in Matthew 16:24 or in Mark / Luke?
There most prevalent views include:

  1. Deny your desires, passions and your self and be ready to suffer for His sake.
  2. The cross represents Gods finish work, Each day I take the hope, love, and forgiveness of the Cross with me .
  3. Your Cross is what you suffer with. Whatever that may be, you can Carry your Cross with conviction; knowing that Christ gave our suffering true and deep meaning.
  4. Jesus has already died for my sickness, diseases, shame and lack so the cross here does not represent any of this.
  5. Denying yourself means living an aesthetic life devoid of all worldly pleasures and then be ready to suffer for Him.
  6. Denying and picking your cross means not being attached to the temporary thing of the world but be ready to give it all up.
    The amp bible says :
    “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]”
    Can someone bring out Jesus actually meant here?

(Josué Aparicio) #2

Jesus repeatedly spoke on the condition of the heart in different ways to different people. Some with metaphors, others with illustrations and others in a blunt manner to emphasize the point that He could only save us.

Once we understand that our desires or passions get in the way of His salvation, the suffering begins because of the attachment the heart has to those things.

Moments earlier we read Peter called Jesus the Messiah. Imagine saying this to Jesus to his face. If you were Peter you might be tempted to tell everyone that you were his closest follower! Boasting in something that couldn’t be further from the truth.

This is why he said to take up your cross daily because our hearts need to be rewired and rerooted so deeply that our desires are for Him. These verses don’t speak to one particular group but to everyone who treasures things that isn’t Christ-centred.

Each person has a different cross that they need to carry daily. There isn’t a specific list of desires or passions we should avoid because they are all different from one person to the next. Someone could be doing good that looks great from the outside but on the inside might be doing it for selfish reasons.

The things of this world have no value when the heart is removed from it.

This is how I see this text. Hope this helps.

God Bless

(SeanO) #3

@akshay807 I really like what @josueaparicio said about the need for us to have Christ centered hearts. That will preach! I agree that God looks upon the heart and it is from there that our words and actions flow.

I think one reason you find such a diversity of views is because we are all still working out what it means to take up our cross in our own context. For each of us, that cross may look different because of where we live, our family situation, our culture and the gifts God has given us.

In seminary, I took a class called “A Theology of Cross Bearing” and for an entire semester we did nothing but study this single passage. It was a challenging class to say the least. I like what Darrell Bock said in his commentary on Luke - learning what it means to surrender our possessions and take up our cross is a process - we grow in our understanding of what it means as we walk with Christ each day. Below is my personal conclusion about what it means to take up your cross and what I consider some helpful notes from different commentators. If you are interested in further reading feel free to reach out to me - I still have the full syllabus.

To count the cost of the cross is to decide to follow God no matter what suffering may come, believing that He will give the strength needed to endure and knowing that if in our weakness we fall He does not abandon those who humble themselves before Him.

So, what does it mean to take up our cross? Is it any more than a passionate pursuit of God’s face for the sake of knowing Him more; a laying down of our lives so that we can have His? How do we measure success in the Christian life? What fruits does the cross promise other than a closer walk with the risen Christ?

“You must be ready to deny yourself for the sake of the truth, but you may not sacrifice the other at the altar of your truth,” (Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, 272).

“As a Jew in first century Palestine choosing Jesus would likely result in being rejected by your family. Your family may have tried to turn you away from Christ. The question would have been, and it still is, ‘Who holds your loyalties when you must choose between the embrace of God and the embrace of man?’” (Darrell Bock, Luke Volume II, 1285).

Gundry concludes that Luke 14:33 demands a literal renunciation of the disciple’s possessions. However, Gundry also notes that this command was given in the context of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. Because of this fact, He was calling the people who were following him to literally walk with Him to Jerusalem and participate in His sufferings. For modern readers, we should look to the book of Acts for a more proper view of Luke’s understanding of how the believer should relate to their possessions. (Gundry, 298)

Forsake all: The essence of discipleship is to place all in God’s hands… It is not how little you can give God, but how much God deserves. - Gundry

Gundry, Robert H. Commentary on the New Testament. Massachusetts: Henrickson Publishers, 2010.

(David Bruce Young) #4

I just read the passage in Matthew 16 in my personal devotions. 5 minutes had not passed before I read your question. This stirred me personally. And I have a suggestion for you. Memorize one or even all 3 of these passages and then spend extended time meditating on what Jesus said.
I have some opinions on the themes you gleaned from great teachers. And I know we help one another by sharing. But I suspect you will get more from the passage than you would from my thoughts. If you give this a try, I suspect you will come back with deep insights for the rest of us.

(Akshay Ghorpade ) #6

Hey Josue,
Thank you for your prompt reply. This was insightful and very relevant to text especially the part of “each person has a different cross that they need to carry daily” and about “rewiring and rerooting.”
Thank you once again.

(Akshay Ghorpade ) #7

Hi @SeanO
Really appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this up. It has so much of truth in it.
I was very curious about the syllabus you were mentioning about. However I feel I should chart out this journey with the Holy Spirit and then refer also the syllabus. I shall definitely be reaching out to you to once this is done.

(Akshay Ghorpade ) #8

Thank you for such encouraging words. I have actually started on trying to dig deep on this not only intellectually but more so spiritually. I do feel this is very important. I am most assuredly acting on your suspicions :slightly_smiling_face:

(Akshay Ghorpade ) #9

Apart from the references in Matthew, Mark and Luke, which are in the same context and happened soon after Peter was evidently correcting Jesus for mentioning about his death.
There is another place where Jesus mentions about carrying the cross, this was an interesting thing for me, because it was the time he was sending his 12 disciples out to proclaim the good news. It is found in Matthew 10:38.
Our Lord mentions this while he is talking about the fact that following him may be a cause of division among families and that he who loves any one in the family more that him is not worthy of him.
It is interesting he mentions the cross here. This was not in the context of him going to calvary just yet. He had not mentioned to the disciples about the fact that he is going to die as he had clearly done in our earlier reference of Matthew 16. So a whole 6 chapters earlier he mentions about the cross.
Therefore I guess to relegate this to simply saying that he wanted to give a call to the disciples to follow his literal example to the cross may not be fully accurate as what Gundry may be implying.

(SeanO) #10

@akshay807 Sounds good - may the Lord grant you wisdom as you study and seek to understand how to take up your cross in your own life.