23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.
We wait for the day when we will no longer want what our flesh wants. We think that if we grow spiritually the day will come when we will no longer desire what the flesh desires. That day will never come! As long as I am in the flesh I will desire what the flesh wants. Get over it. It’s true.
Then how will I win this battle between the flesh and the spirit (as Paul describes in Galatians 5:13-26)? How will I be formed in the image of Jesus? Here it is: When I WANT to be a disciple of Jesus.
There are days when I am a disciple, but don’t really want to be. On those days I’m coasting on yesterday’s walk with Christ. On those days I’m putting off the flesh, maybe, but only because of a sense of duty – not because I WANT to.
Jesus said, “Whoever WANTS to be my disciple…” Hang on a second. What would wanting to be His disciple look like? When I want something in life, I go after it. I order it, purchase it, make time for it… why? Because I want it. There are days that I don’t live like I WANT to be Jesus’ disciple. I just am His disciple. Not begrudgingly, but more because I know I need to be His disciple. I hear Jesus making this offer to follow Him, but only to those who want to. He never makes us follow.
Now, If I WANT to be His disciple, meaning that I’m going to go after it, make time for it, pursue it with some energy – that’s great. Jesus wants disciples who want to be His disciples. Later in Luke 9 Jesus turned away enough would-be disciples to show us that this isn’t for everybody. Some are just too engrossed in this world and others just can’t cut it. Some need to want it more!
If we do want to be Jesus’ disciple, here’s what He said would be our reality: we “must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Him” (verse 23). The only time we will WANT to deny our flesh is when we WANT to be Jesus’ disciple more. We will never arrive to the point of not desiring what our flesh desires. We will always want that, disciples just want Jesus more.
The cross is the destination for our flesh. It’s there that we crucify the sinfulness of our hearts and deny the clamoring of the flesh. Paul wrote, For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). Notice the frequency… take up our cross daily! It’s great that you wanted Jesus yesterday… what about today?
Lord, I want to follow You today. I want it bad! Lead me to the cross.