Christianity’s Triple Mandate: Deny, Carry, and Follow
In the journey of following Jesus, He laid down three fundamental principles for His disciples to adhere to. Jesus said, “And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.'” (Luke 9:23 NASB). These principles are not merely suggestions; they are the very essence of a life dedicated to Christ.
Deny Self, Serve Others
The first of these foundational rules is to deny oneself and serve others. Jesus lived this truth to its fullest. He demonstrated that a life pleasing to God is one that places the needs and concerns of others above our own. Christianity is not a solo career; it is a call to selfless service. This is not always an easy path, as people can be difficult and seem to be going in the opposite direction of where we want them to go.
Yet, Jesus showed us that our lives should be devoted to the service of others, just as His life was. Through His sacrificial death on the cross, Jesus opened the door for us to draw nearer to God than we could have ever imagined. He served us by fulfilling God’s requirement of perfect obedience and applied His obedience to all who believe in Him.
The second principle Jesus established for His followers is to take up their cross daily. The cross was not a mere symbol; it was an instrument of shame and death. When the disciples heard Jesus speak of this public execution, it must have been frightening.
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:13-14 NASB).
However, the deeper meaning behind Jesus’ statement is that He became a curse on the cross so that we could be freed from the curse of sin. Galatians 3:13-14 reaffirms this truth, stating that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us. His sacrifice on the cross led to the salvation of many, and He calls us to carry our own crosses.
What is my Cross?
Understanding what our cross represents can sometimes be challenging. We may struggle to discern God’s specific plan for our lives. But the Bible offers guidance on God’s will, and Jesus Himself made it clear when He said, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” (John 15:8 NASB)
Our cross is to live a life pleasing to God, share the good news of Jesus with others, and serve those in need. It is not a one-time event but rather a daily commitment to self-sacrifice and obedience to God’s Word.
Follow Me, by Following Me
Lastly, Jesus emphasized the ultimate rule for following Him: Follow Jesus. While it may seem redundant to state, it is a crucial reminder for us. Sometimes, in the midst of serving others and growing in our faith community, we can lose sight of the One we are serving.
We must continually remember the reason behind Jesus’ sacrifice: His love for us. He died so that we could have a personal relationship with Him. While serving others is a vital part of following Him, it should never become the sole focus of our faith journey. Jesus desires a close, personal relationship with each of us.
The Bible is indeed filled with Godly wisdom and instruction. Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23 serve as a guiding light for all who desire to follow Him. Denying oneself, taking up our cross daily, and following Jesus are the foundational principles of a life devoted to Christ.
As we walk on this journey of faith, let us remember that following Jesus involves self-sacrifice and service to others. Our lives should reflect His love and grace, drawing others closer to God. The daily cross we bear represents a life lived according to God’s will, as revealed in His Word.
- Take time daily for prayer and reflection on God’s Word, seeking guidance in serving others selflessly.
- Identify areas in your life where you can sacrificially serve others, whether in your community, church, or family.
- Strive to live according to the teachings of the Bible, bearing the fruit of a Christ-centered life.
So, let us apply these principles to our lives today. Deny selfish desires and serve others with love and compassion. Embrace the cross God has given us and live in obedience to His Word. Most importantly, let us remember that following Jesus is not just about serving others but about building a deep and personal relationship with Him.