Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”—Luke 9:23
Undoubtably you’ve seen the pictures. Olympic heavy weight lifters hustling an impressive about of poundage above their heads. The expression upon their face is serious, intent on accomplishing the colossal goal before them. Some awkwardly assert this is the dedication one must make when taking up their cross, to muster up the strength, courage, and ability to face their demons. Sin however leaves us weakened, frightened, and exemplifies our regrettably perfect ability to fail. Sin leaves us hopeless, because sin brings death (Cf. Eph. 2:1). There is not a chance of success when we are incapable of overcoming our strongest competitor, death.
Jesus gives a seemingly impossible task to fulfill. Recall what His bold words were to the disciples, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved (Mt. 19:24-25)?”
Indeed! Who then can be saved? Who then can take up their cross and follow Jesus? Jesus gives us the answer, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Mt. 19:26).” It is with Jesus alone we have our answer. To follow Jesus means first to have repentance and faith. To trust the Lord, be enlivened with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and with this faith desire to remain in Christ. This possibility of faith is accomplished in the death and resurrection of Jesus. His cross actually accomplishes the redemption of the world (Cf. Jn. 3:16-17). Where the need to be saved was, Jesus met it, and in fact his own blood was the currency.
Hopefully this is not news to you, Good News yes, new news probably not. But maybe this is, Jesus’ words to deny oneself and daily take up their cross is wonderfully not about you! It’s still about Jesus for you! Jesus has overcome death for you! And He, having denied His own life, takes you up with His cross daily. You cannot take up your cross on your own because of sin, let alone even have a desire of Christ outside of his mercy. Friends there is joy in Jesus! The Gospel joy here is that Jesus has gone to the cross for you meaning you can bear your cross daily—because Jesus has already. No weights required.