Daily Devotionals

Trouble Maker Week 6: Wednesday

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24

The other day I overheard my brother convincing my nephew Owen to go with him to run errands. He said, “It will be fun, buddy! We can go get ice cream while we are out.” The promise of ice cream was all Owen needed to convince him to follow my brother to the grocery store. If he would have said, “I need to get gas, go to the grocery store, but we cannot get any good snacks, and run a few more boring errands, he would not have been nearly as successful. When you want someone to follow you, you try to make it convincing by telling them the positives of following you, right? This was not what Jesus did. Instead, He was always honest that following Him would lead to hardships and struggles on earth, but that following Him would always be worth it. 

While teaching His disciples in Matthew 26, Jesus explained that following Him had a cost. He said to them, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me” (verse 24). This is not the typical message that would convince someone to follow you. The cross during Jesus’ day was a Roman torture device leading to death. Jesus was being brutally honest that following Him meant being prepared to lose one’s life, whether literally or figuratively. But, he did not stop there. He continued His teaching by explaining why one should follow Him even when it meant taking up your cross. He said, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will find it” (verse 24). With this teaching, Jesus flipped the paradigm for success upside down. Do everything you can to hold on to your life and save it, and you will lose it. Give up your life for the sake of Christ, and you will find it. Yes, this life holds suffering and sacrifice, but when we lay down and sacrifice our lives, we will actually find our lives. 

 When you think about your faith, do you often remember this invitation from Jesus to sacrifice and lay our lives down for His sake? If you are like me, I do not always think about it. My pride and self-protection cause me to want to argue that I should not have to suffer or sacrifice anything. Yet that argument is contrary to what Scripture teaches. A life following Christ includes suffering. It calls for sacrifice. And, as difficult as it may feel at the time, the beauty is that in giving of ourselves, even our very lives, we will, in fact, find our lives.

Moving toward action

Spend some time thinking about the fact that the call to follow Jesus has a cost. Have there been sacrifices you have made as a result of your relationship with Christ? Are there any sacrifices that you know God is calling you to make? What are they? What is the promise in Scripture about our suffering?

Going Deeper

Matthew 16:21-28 (NLT)

"From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.

22 But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. 28 And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”