Ears to Hear Matt 16
I tend to think about things from my own vantage point but when I think about what the disciples heard and understood in Matt. 16:24 I reflect differently. First, Jesus is saying to people who had already come after Him they needed to deny themselves. What did that mean? Perhaps to deny that they had any capacity to save themselves, or be what God wanted them to be.
It is a selfless perspective that says I am nothing and cannot contribute anything to my worth or redemption.
Next, Jesus tells them that he is going to be killed, but they have no idea that He is going to die on a cross. What does it mean? Their understanding of taking up a cross is based on the culture they lived in where they witnessed hundreds of crucifixions, which were somewhat common in the Roman Empire. When Jesus told them that they would have to take up their cross they imagined condemned souls marching along with their own instrument of death strapped to their backs.
It is a willingness to endure sacrifice and persecution for His sake.
Finally Jesus says, “let him be following me as a way of life.” These guys had already left their former lives to follow. So what did He mean? In advancing the Kingdom we are deployed to love people, extend grace, push back the night, go to the end of the line, care for the marginalized, proclaim the good news and engage in good works; Loyal obedience daily.
It is very different set of marching orders that we are asked to embrace than expected.
If you take a trip the first thing you do is say goodbye, pick up your bags and then proceed on your trip. That is what Jesus is asking: that we say goodbye to self, pick up our burden, and follow. Intentionally. Daily. Joyfully.