Yes, I know it is not yet Easter but indulge me for a few minutes.
The cross of Christ signifies pain, trouble, shame, suffering, discomfort as well as a symbol of salvation. In Mathew 16, Jesus decided to talk to the disciples about His impending death and resurrection. Peter sharply rebuked Him on the side saying it would never happen. In an even sharper rebuke Jesus shut Peter down telling him not to be a stumbling block to His purpose.
Then He said "..., “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24.
Mark's version says Jesus told both the disciples and the multitude who followed Him around. It was time to separate the sheep from the goats. Jesus knew some were following Him for miracles, healings, food and some just in sheer wonder. He needed them but especially His disciples to understand that following Him entailed a whole lot more than they had already given.
If we call ourselves His followers, disciples, Christians then we must let go of natural motives and impulses if they conflict with the man Christ, what He wants from us and what He stood and stands for. Failing to deny yourself might result in you denying Him as Peter quickly learned. Jesus Himself had to deny Himself, i.e. empty Himself of who He was-His deity- in order to come among us as a man to save us. We must renounce and let go anything that hinders or might hinder our being His followers and disciples. Besides that we must be prepared to endure persecution, ridicule, side-eyes daily for His name's sake. Then we must follow His footsteps-exhibiting the love, kindness, tolerance, empathy, etc that is His nature.
For us to be effective disciples and followers of Jesus, we must be prepared to go all in. There is no half way and no maybes. Self denial is not a walk in the park. We are wired to seek what is best for us, to pursue that which brings us comfort but as His disciples, we must understand that we will have to put Jesus first; what He desires from and for us should be our goal. It is not about what feels comfortable, convenient and easy. May God give us the grace to effectively take up our crosses and follow Him.
Love, Lady Monica❤