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24The Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (Matthew10:38-39, Mark8:34, Luke9:23,1Peter2:21)

He that denies someone acts as if he does not know him. He does not respond to him and neglects him completely. Christ asks everyone who desires to come after Him to deny himself. He should not to respond to his lusts and desires that are opposite to God’s will but should reject his selfishness that is so natural to him. He should forsake his own wishes and seek first the will of God and His kingdom. God wants us to oppose the appealing advertisements in newspapers and television that provoke us to unclean lust. He frees us not to remain self-centered and no longer to focus on ourselves, and leads us back to our Heavenly Father and to serve those in need.
Such denial puts an end to the illusion that man can save himself by himself. Our good deeds do not drive away our bad deeds. Good deeds apart from Christ working through us appear before God’s holiness as pure selfishness. Pride will remain in us unless we deny our imaginary rights, condemn ourselves, and confess our inability in spreading the beautiful light of God.
Christ did not free His disciples from the shock after He spoke to them about His death. Their concern grew, especially when they heard that each one of them had to “deny himself and take up his own cross.”
It is not sufficient for Christ’s followers to deny themselves. The Lord asks us to accept our own cross willingly, and take it up in Christ’s power. Jesus did not talk about His own cross but about the cross of each of his followers. To the Romans, the punishment of the cross was violent torture typically used for disobedient slaves who attempted to revolt against their lords, or for foreign thieves. In this commandment, Christ asks us to admit that we deserve the horrible death of the cross, because we have been far away from God, transgressed His law, and opposed His kindness. Every person deserves the torture of the cross! This confession includes our sins, and intentions. Christ desires to guide us to condemn ourselves and recognize that He did not deserve death on the cross, but we did. Then pride shall die in us, and we will be able to produce thankfulness and praise to Him who has taken our place on the cross, bearing our sins without complaint. Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” It is only him who denies himself and takes up his cross that follows Jesus and experiences the power of His grace. He that thinks himself to be good, strong, attractive, and acceptable to God of his own accord will not be able to follow Jesus. When man’s power and wisdom stop, God’s power is perfected in our weakness. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Heavenly Father, Your Son led us to condemn ourselves that we remain broken before you and confess that we are not worthy of being called Your children. At the same time, we are comforted because Your Son took our place on the cross that we might be justified before You. Help us to deny ourselves practically, to take up our cross willingly and voluntarily, to follow Jesus wherever He will, and learn what it means to be crucified with Christ.
What is the meaning of self-denial, and taking up one’s own cross?