Day 11

Take Up Your Cross

from the Luke reading plan


Luke 9:1-27, Acts 13:44-52, Romans 10:1-15

BY Rebecca Faires

In the quiet following the large-scale, miraculous feeding of the five thousand, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?… Who do you say that I am?” (Luke 9:20).

Everyone had their own version of who Jesus was. Many, like Herod, were curious but perplexed. Others believed Him to be Elijah, a prophet of old, or a resurrected John the Baptist. And I can’t blame them, because even with all the prophecy and typology in the Old Testament, no one had ever seen the Messiah. Jesus as Messiah was a completely new kind of being.

But good old Peter jumps right in with the correct Sunday-school answer: “God’s Messiah.” Bam! Atta boy, Peter. But even Peter’s confession was revealed to him, not by flesh and blood, but by the heavenly Father (Matthew 16:17). Even Peter needed help sorting out the right answer.

And who is God’s Messiah? What does this designation mean? The true Messiah would be the One who would suffer and die for the sins of God’s people, and after three days rise again, though not even Peter had understood that much. The Messiah was not merely one of the prophets, or Elijah, or John. He was the One for whom John prepared the way in the wilderness. We have the advantage of history on our side, knowing that Jesus did suffer, die, and rise again. And we can use that advantage to answer with Peter, “You are God’s Messiah.”

What should we do with this information? Right away Jesus follows Peter’s confession with: “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Since I don’t have a physical, wooden cross handy, I can’t help but wonder, What does it means to “take up your cross”? Jesus laid aside His glory to bear the cross to Calvary; this was His greatest act of self-denial and obedience to the Father. It is self-denial for the glory of God.

In the same way, He calls us to set aside our own wills and be fully devoted to the Father’s will. Here’s the sticking point: This is the hardest thing on earth to do. I love doing my own will. It’s my favorite thing. And Jesus specifies that taking up one’s cross is a daily action. With the apostle Paul, our response to the risen Messiah is to die to ourselves daily (1 Corinthians 15:31). So every day, we are called to do the absolute hardest thing in the world—die to ourselves and set aside what we want.

We’re all like Peter; we can blurt out Sunday-school answers, but the very next minute, we need someone to say to us: “Get behind me Satan!” (Matthew 16:23). We aren’t able to set aside our own will so easily. So how do we take up our cross? We simply take up Christ. We fall at the beautiful feet of the One who has brought us the good news of the gospel (Romans 10:15). We cling to Him, leaning on His perfect righteousness, day after day.

Post Comments (57)

57 thoughts on "Take Up Your Cross"

  1. Michelle Dunmire says:

    As a mom, wife, and daycare provider, I have lots of opportunities to deny myself everyday. It’s doing it with the right heart that I need to work on. Loving and giving to and for my littles, my young adults, and my husband without seeking a reward for myself. I think we sometimes ‘reward’ ourself with a harshly worded social media post concerning the loves of our lives that gains us attention and ‘likes’. I see far too many moms and wives posting about the hardships of family life. It isn’t easy, but I hope we can build one another up positively, rather than

    1. LindseyJane Godbold says:

      I’ve been seeing and feeling the same way lately. Self denial isn’t very popular in the “me time” world we live in. Mothers acting like martyrs on social media about the blessings God has given to them. I think some of that is perspective. If we see our lives as burdens, it begins to feel that way. If we see it as a blessing to get to pour ourselves out to the next generation, we start to see feel it that way. In our attempt to commiserate with other moms about the difficult parts of raising children and running households, we changed the narrative on those things into something negative. I think the good news is that we can turn the tide, we can narrate it differently.

  2. Tori McElroy says:

    Sunday school answers. They’re great, and sometimes even have the right intentions, but something I have to recognize every day is whether or not what I say and how I live life, which is supposed to be according to God’s word, is being said or maybe even done out of habit.

    I can claim to be a Christian all day long, but am I reflecting that? Is the way I live my life reflecting who Jesus is?

    Though my answer cannot always be yes, I loved having a reminder to continue to pursue that and never forget why I need to be the person God wants me to be

  3. Bessie says:

    We have a joke in our family that sometimes ‘one of us goes off in the weeds’. We get distracted, caught up in things that don’t really matter, stressed, lazy, whatever. This is our gentle way of calling a loved one back to what matters. I’ve been pondering the parable of the seeds. Even if we are fertile soil, sometimes we go off in the weeds where we get choked by the cares of life.

    Lately I’ve been praying at the start of my day to remember to take up the cross and live this day for Christ. I dedicate it to Him. I’ve realized that this has to be a daily occurrence. It is too easy to get off track. It isn’t a deliberate action, it is just easy to drift if I’m not paying attention. Drifting, if not caught will land us deeper in the weeds until we are lost.

    Rebecca is right that it is hard. There are days when I long to drift off in the weeds and sit a spell. I don’t want to work at righteousness. I’m tired. Those are the days when I really need to pay attention.

    It really helps to have you dear sisters to remind me of what is important at the start of my day. It helps that we all struggle at different times and hold each other up. You are all a great encouragement to me.

    1. Andrea P says:

      ❤️

    2. Cady R says:

      I love this ! Thank you !

    3. Natasha R says:

      ❤️❤️❤️

  4. Linda J says:

    I think it can be simple things like stopping to really listen to someone who is hurting, adding a bit to a tip just to be kind, serving, foregoing a new pair of shoes to support a needy family. I try to look for those daily moments when I have the opportunity to be Jesus’ hands and feet. I fear I miss more than I see.

  5. Karen says:

    Thank you Angie for a wonderful description of what it means to take up your cross on a daily basis! As we “cling to Jesus and lean into His righteousness day after day” per Lindsay’s words, my prayer is that my life could look like that. It’s the hardest thing to give up one’s own desires and take up that cross, but I know it is so worth every step!

  6. Angie says:

    Jesus carried the cross so that he could complete His purpose here on earth.
    The perfect Christ’s death and resurrection paid for my sin and bought me eternal life with Him.
    What do I carry to complete His purpose here on earth?

    It might be different daily.
    Changing diapers and cleaning gum out of a child’s hair with love
    Answering phones in an office and giving grace to the client whose anger is being taken out on me
    Drinking a cup of coffee on break and encouraging a co-worker
    Entering a classroom every day and modeling Jesus through tender actions and words that guide
    Working beside someone in a dirty, heat-filled factory, praying for them as we work
    Getting up and going to a dull job, day after day, and focusing on the blessing of it
    Living alone and lonely but using the time to draw closer to the Savior
    Attending doctors appointments with the recognizable peace of Christ in our spirit

    It looks different for everyone and different every day.
    Taking whatever step is before you, thankful that though it is difficult, all the time…or at times, sometimes so very difficult…the replacement of a self agenda to glorify Christ, will be worth it.
    His will for mine

    1. Samara Smith says:

      Thank you for this description!

    2. Patty K says:

      Thank you for this reminder. I so needed to see it this way. Blessings to you.

    3. Andrea P says:

      Beautifully said Angie! Thank you for the reminder that it is the simple daily tasks that we can take up our cross and glorify Jesus!

    4. Cady R says:

      Thanks for the contribution ! Truly, you have given lots of us a bit of wisdom that would other wise alludes us! Take up your cross. Take up your calling and contribute to the Kingdom of God

    5. Peyton Jacobs says:

      So perfectly said. Thank you for this reminder.

    6. Peggy Larmore says:

  7. Alice Carroll says:

    Oops, looks like it was actually posting!

    1. Lizzy G says:

      I think it looks like the opposite of what our “flesh” desires and more like the fruits of the Holy Spirit. In any situation : being selfless, kind, patient, not self seeking or self serving, slow to anger, etc. Basically functioning under the supernatural because our natural state is most often all about us instead of HIM and instead of others.

    2. Rea Queen says:

      I wrote down words like:
      follow, listen, obey, sacrifice, confidence, deny self, others-focused, Jesus-focused. and doing these things even in the “little” things all day, every day.

    3. Jeanne Rodick says:

      I agree, and think that on a practical level, it can start with asking God to mold your will to his. Doing our own wills and just simply remembering to seek God’s will first can be challenging, but his plans are to prosper us and he always wants our good and his glory, so walking in obedience always ends up in blessings for us anyway. So there are lots of reasons to say, “not my will but yours be done!”

  8. Alice Carroll says:

    I’m still not sure what denying myself and taking up my cross looks like on a day to day basis – anyone have any ideas?

    1. Jaclyn Gilbert says:

      Hi Alice. I’m trying to figure this out myself. I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to surrender and humble myself in His presence. In my own life, that means starting my day asking for God’s help putting aside my own desires and will. This isn’t something we can do on our own… putting down our will or picking up His!!!!

    2. Brittany Holmes says:

      My alarm went off this morning at 5:45. I knew that I needed to get up to do my devotion, but the bed felt too warm and I didn’t want to deny myself. On the cross, things die. Often in order to do the things I am called to do for Christ, I have to die to myself.

    3. Krystal Weiss says:

      I struggle also. I realized this morning that yesterday’s message was about listening and today’s was about action based on what I’ve heard. I can’t listen to God, hear his will for me and then ignore it. God isn’t giving us advice, he’s giving us mandates. So I’m going to start with being prayerful and listening, and then using the discernment that God has given me to act according to his will and not my own. To me taking up the cross has always sounded like a big, dramatic gesture, but now I’m wondering if it is just all of the small ways that we can follow Christ each day.

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