Matthew 10:38-39 NKJV
38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
The cross was an instrument of death used in the Roman Empire to execute the vilest of criminals. These criminals were made to carry the beam of their cross to the site of execution as a kind of public confession that they were guilty of what they had been charged with and deserving of death. By carrying the beam of the cross to their execution site, they were participating in their execution. This was a common site in the days of Jesus, and remember he is speaking these words way before he was crucified. What did he mean?
In the previous verses, Jesus is talking about loving him, he says anyone who loves his father and mother more than they love Jesus, they are not worthy to follow him. In the same manner, if you love your life more than you love him, then you are not worthy of following him. As much as the criminals were forced to participate in their execution, Jesus declares to us that we must take up our cross willingly, laying down our life, our dreams, our desires to pursue Him. He does not force us, rather, we must be willing to participate in our death if we want to follow him. As Paul said, it is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.
That is a hard saying to comprehend and even follow, and Jesus knows that. He finishes by giving us some perspective. He who is not willing to carry their cross, he who is not willing to lay down their life may think that they are saving it, but in essence, they will lose it. On the other hand, he who is willing to carry their cross and lay down their life, it may seem like they have lost it, but in reality, for the sake of Christ, they have found life.
Are there any individual in your life that you would be willing to lay down your life for?
What is your understanding of dying to self, carrying your cross?
What are some areas of your life where self is still alive? What will you do about them?