“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” –Luke 9:23
“There is no victory without sacrifice.” I don’t know who said it first, but I wonder if that’s what Jesus had in mind when He told the disciples they would have to deny themselves, take up their crosses daily and follow Him. I mean, when we read this passage, we think of Jesus with the cross on His back, bloodied and bent, stumbling uphill to Golgotha, where He was crucified. But all of that meant nothing to the disciples. In their minds, Jesus was The Man. He was the Messiah; sent by God to lead with power, not humility. With strength, not sacrifice. Self-denial was NOT on their minds. It must have been an eerie sight for them.
But Jesus’ consistent message was always that the cost of discipleship was simple—everything. Lest anyone miss the point, Jesus taught it again in Matthew 13: 45-46, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.” There’s a victory to be had, and a sacrifice to be made.
This was the message He gave to the ‘Rich Young Ruler’ when He said, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven…” (Mark 10:21). There is no victory without sacrifice.
As Christians, we like to focus on the fact that the grace of God is free, all you have to do is accept it. What we often fail to understand is that acceptance is no easy task. We say that we found that priceless pearl and gave everything for it. But I think, that even though we already made the purchase, we have a hard time letting go of the cash. We hang on to things. Sometimes we hang on to money. Other times we hang on to pride. We hang on to our reputation, our lifestyle, our comforts and conveniences… We hang on to all kinds of junk. But that wasn’t the deal. The deal was for everything. And that means if you call yourself a follower of Jesus, you have to make sacrifices. The cost of discipleship is simple: the cost of discipleship is everything. Sacrifice. Deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Him.
READ: Luke 9:18-26
THINK: What is your victory–what are you trying to achieve right now? What do you need to sacrifice in order to reach it? If you haven’t thought through these questions, you’re aiming at nothing, and you’ll hit it every time.
PRAY: Thank God for the gift of grace and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Ask Him to show you any areas in your life where a sacrifice might bring you closer to Him.
ACT: Make a plan. Define how you will achieve the victory you know you want to see. Share that plan with someone you trust who will pray for you as you follow through.