Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. (Lk 9:23-26 NKJV)
Perhaps few words Christ ever said had a greater impact upon His disciples than these. For them, a cross was not a piece of jewelry, but rather a cruel and tortuous way to die. It was bad enough for the Lord to speak of His own cross; now He was referring to theirs. What could Christ possibly have meant when He spoke of them bearing a cross?
Some of the disciples did indeed eventually die on a cross; yet others didn’t. Therefore the cross in their lives must have meant more than physical death. We should note that Jesus said that each disciple would have to take up his or her cross ‘daily.’ No one can die daily on a wooden cross. You can’t give up your physical life over and over again. For that reason Jesus must have meant more than the way they would one day die.
Jesus said that the one who takes up their cross daily is the one who denies self. Walter Chantry wrote, “Put to death self-importance, self-satisfaction, self-absorption, self-advancement, self-dependence. And ‘whosoever will lose his life for my sake.’ That’s it. Death to self-interest because you serve Christ’s honor! Even capitulation of those things which men call legitimate interests, for God’s glory!” (The Shadow of the Cross, p.25)
The Lord will not put to death in us our desires for self-importance, self-satisfaction, self-absorption, self-advancement and self-dependence. The way these words were written in the Bible indicates that we must do that to ourselves. Each and every day and in each and every situation, we must choose whether we are going to live for God’s glory or our own.