Why mention dying to
self, taking up the cross, counting the cost of discipleship?*
These terms, anyway, have
rarely been heard over the pulpit nowadays. We’re more comfortable with topics
touching on success, blessings, fulfillment, health and wealth. Isn’t it more
about living out my dreams and vision?
We are understandably
like that because dying to self is painful—even for Jesus.
As a man, Jesus was
fearful of the prospect of a slow, agonising death at the cross and, more so,
being forsaken by God when all the sins of the world were heaped on Him. He
wanted to know whether such suffering could be avoided. Besides going to
Calvary, did God have any other alternative plans for Him?
was willing to set aside His own desires—if death was the only
way by which sinful men can be forgiven of their sins and be reconciled to God.
Once Jesus was convinced God the Father would have it no other way, He would
drink the cup of sorrow down to the dregs.
Christ endured the shame and agony
of the cross because He envisioned the joy that would be His when many, many lost souls would be
reconciled to God through his sacrificial death.
“When he sees all that is accomplished by his
anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous
servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will
bear all their sins” (Isaiah 53:11).
This is the kind of burden God would have us
carry. It involves self-denial and sacrifice. It often means moving out of our
comfort zone. It may even mean persecution.
Christ’s painful struggle—but eventual obedience—at Gethsemane is an
example to us. It challenges our conventional notion of the Christian life as primarily one of blessing.
“Looking unto Jesus the author and
perfecter of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured
the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of
the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
“While I was with you, I decided to deal with
only one subject—Jesus Christ, who was crucified” (1
Corinthians 2:2). Treading
the well-beaten path, the one which the majority would take, might lead to
“Enter through the narrow gate.For wide
is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter
through it.But small
is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’will
enter the kingdom of heaven,but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.Many will say
to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your
name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew
you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
*Carrying the cross and
counting the cost
wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and
follow me.For whoever
wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will
save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand
to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
“And whoever does
not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.Suppose one of you wants to build a tower.
Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money
to complete it?For if you lay the foundation and are not able
to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you,saying,
‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish’”(Luke
BURDEN OF JOY
Who wants to have a
burden when we can have blessing? But how about a burden that comes with joy?