Father, help open my heart today to what it means to follow Jesus.
Read: Matthew 16:24-27
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
Earlier in Matthew 16, Jesus warns against the influence of the Jewish leaders and then Peter boldly declares that Jesus is the Messiah, The Son of God. Then verses 24-27 follow immediately as Jesus describes what it means to be a true disciple—a follower. Following Jesus mean denying ourselves and dying daily. Truly following Jesus means losing our own lives through the cross of Jesus Christ in order to gain the one life that is truly life. Verse 25 is one of those verses referred to as a “paradox” – true statements that seem to contradict each other yet within their opposition reveal a deeper truth altogether. When it comes to following Jesus, saving our lives means losing our lives and losing our lives means ultimately being found in Jesus. Life means death and death means life. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, before his martyrdom near the end of World War II said, “Grace is costly because it cost God the life of His Only Son.” He went on to say, “What was costly for God will not be cheap for us.”
In what ways has Christianity become too easy? In America how is following Jesus easier than in other parts of the world? What difficult steps does God want me to take in following Jesus? In what areas of life is God calling me to die to myself?
God, may my life become a living sacrifice to you. May I lose my life in Jesus’ cross so His life lives through me.