“And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
Following Jesus takes only one thing: Death! This is what Jesus means when He says to “carry his cross.” He begins with His death on the cross and then calls us to look back upon His life. It was a life of obedience to His Father. That obedience when applied to us means putting God first in our lives and dying to ourselves. This is what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus – He comes first for us. All our other desires of life take a back seat to Him. He is not the “co-pilot” of our life but the “Pilot.”
Honestly, we who confess Jesus, wrestle continually with putting Him first. Often, we slip Him into the back seat and take control. When that happens, it is always for some selfish reason. It may be for our personal self or for a loved one but Jesus is set aside for a while. Yes, it is difficult to keep the cross – death to our self – ever before us. This will be our constant struggle as sinner and saint in this life. But what a blessed struggle it is. Without Him in our life that struggle is won by our evil enemy and we are lost forever. Praise Jesus for His forgiveness that keeps lifting us up to follow Him.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the struggle that takes place at the cross every day in our life. That struggle tells us that we are alive and You are fighting for our soul. In Jesus, we know that You have won that struggle for us. “It is finished!” Praise Your Holy Name! Help us live more for You every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Robert Forsberg is retired from Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Fairborn.