23 Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it. 25 For what does it benefit someone if he gains the whole world, and yet loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and that of the Father and the holy angels. 27 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” — Luke 9:23-27
A Daily Process of Dying
by Ben Cairns
That’s kind of a jarring title for your morning devotional! But stay with me—it will make sense, I promise. Think about the New Year’s resolution you set at the beginning of the year. How are you doing with it? Some will say they have been doing well, but many more have already loss traction. Workouts are being skipped, more desserts are eaten (this is a reflective statement on myself!), and the gumption that was there at the beginning of the year is non-existent. Why is this? Why is it so hard to stick with it? It’s because keeping a commitment like this requires not only starting a new habit, but killing an old one.
In a way, this is the same thing Jesus is asking of the disciples in Luke 9:23-27. These disciples had walked with Jesus, seen Him perform amazing miracles, and teach with an authority they had never known. He is near the end of His ministry, and this is when He tells them the cost of following Him: they must deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow Him. It was not an easy thing to ask. Taking up a cross was referencing crucifixion, one of the most excruciating ways to be punished in their times.
Although Jesus was not asking them to take up a physical cross on a daily basis, it served as an effective illustration. To follow Christ required sacrifice: a part of them would have to die. Their fears, pride in their accomplishments, and worldly desires would have to die in their pursuit of Christ. Verse 24 states, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it.” Jesus knew the road ahead would not be an easy one for His disciples. Most would be killed for teaching and leading others to Christ.
To anyone in the world, doing this wouldn’t make sense. Not so for the disciples—they had already left everything to follow Him. They believed He was the promised Messiah. They believed He was and is the Son of God. His sacrifice on the cross and the salvation He offered from sin to all who believe was something worth giving everything for. True freedom is found in total surrender to Christ.
The most encouraging part and my favorite part of this passage is found in the word “daily.” Christ knew this sort of dying to their sinful desires would take work. He knew His disciples were not perfect, and He knows we are not perfect! He knows this takes a daily process of dying to ourselves. I take great comfort in serving a God who knows His creation and who gives us grace as we learn how to live for Him day by day.
- What does this daily process of dying look like for you? Are there any idols or sinful habits that are keeping you from having a deeper relationship with God?
- If you are not sure where to start, start with your time in His Word. How much time have you given to reading and meditating on His Word? Has anything else taken a higher priority?
- Think about your time in prayer. How much time have you set aside in your day to talk with the Father? The more time we spend with the Father, the more we will begin to see our lives and others with His perspective and less with our own.
- Doing this is a process! We are not always going to get it right, and we will not always be consistent. God knows this, but He loves every step we take in faithfully surrendering to Him on a daily basis.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.