Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. (Mark 8:34 – 35 NLT)
The Romans, Mark’s original audience, knew what taking up the cross meant. Death on a cross was a form of execution used by Rome for dangerous criminals. A prisoner carried his own cross to the place of execution, signifying submission to Rome’s power.
Jesus used the image of carrying a cross to illustrate the ultimate submission required of his followers. He is not against pleasure, nor was he saying that we should seek pain needlessly. Jesus was talking about the heroic effort needed to follow him moment by moment, to do his will even when the work is difficult and the future looks bleak.
We should be willing to lose our lives for the sake of the Good News, not because our lives are useless but because nothing—not even life itself—can compare to what we gain with Christ. Jesus wants us to choose to follow him rather than to lead a life of sin and self-satisfaction. He wants us to stop trying to control our own destiny and to let him direct us. This makes good sense because, as the Creator, Christ knows better than we do what real life is about. He asks for submission, not self-hatred; he asks us only to lose our self-centered determination to be in charge. (Tyndale Study Bible)
I have highlighted a couple of the main points.
The Bible and God call us to action. Nothing worthwhile will ever just happen. You have to do something.
In this case turn from your selfish ways. Here Mark is not just talking about money. Because that is the first thing, that comes to your mind. I am sure he is talking about time, love and grace. Most probably all things where one’s self is involved.
The next thing he says is to take up your cross or as you and I understand it, our sins and life burdens. Our cross is that one thing that challenges you daily. The Bible instructs us to pick those up and lay them before God and Jesus. You will be released from its test in you put your faith in God.
We all try to hang on to these worldly securities. God says we need to release and lay all this at His feet. If we don’t and have no faith, then we will perish. Rely on the promise of God believe in Jesus, and you will have life, first eternal life and also life in abundance.
The speaker makes a good point. I agree because that is what I struggle with the most. We can be all the things successful people are supposed to be. The first thing that comes to mind driven and controlling. That’s all good if we just acknowledge that God and Christ are ultimately in charge. Do your job hard and then rely on God to deliver, trust me He will.
My selfish and self-centered nature will get me nowhere.
“God, I pray that I lose all that self-centered character. I pray for Your character in life completely unselfish and driven for the right reasons. The Good news of Christ Jesus. Amen.”