Laying Down His Life for Us
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“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV)
As we enter the Easter season rejoicing in the new life we’ve been given through the resurrection of Jesus, how can we forget the price He paid—by hanging on a cross in the desert sun with a crown of thorns jammed into his brow, carpenter nails hammered through His hands and feet—for the immense gift of eternal life He has given us? He chose to lay down His life and embrace unspeakable suffering by taking on the crushing weight of the world’s sin and sickness, thereby defeating the devil, restoring righteousness, and finally returning to heaven.
It was Good Friday, the day both the Father and Son gave their greatest gift of love to mankind. God’s heart must have been torn apart as He realized that the only way to restore heaven on earth and the intimacy He’d had with His children in the beautiful Garden of Eden, would come at a horrible cost. There was no other way!
Yet, by choosing to follow the path of suffering, Jesus opened the way for believers to become His disciples and spread the Gospel (“good news”) throughout the earth. As the time of His crucifixion approached, He knew He would be passing the baton of His ministry to the disciples He’d leave behind. These men would literally be the body of Christ—preaching, teaching, and performing miracles. They would need the power of the Holy Spirit to be Christlike, holy, yielded to God, and not to sin.
For us, as followers of Jesus today, we need the same strength to walk the path as He did, all while encountering contempt, accusation, mockery, and rejection. In Luke 9:23 He presents a clear picture of the part we must play. He says,
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
To “deny oneself” is not asceticism (strict self-denial in your own strength) but the choice to put God’s Kingdom before anything else in your life. To “take up your cross” is to renounce all self-centered ambitions, to subjugate your own interests in order to fulfill the interests of the Gospel. “And follow me” means to draw close to Jesus, listen for His voice, and obey His Word, conforming to His ways in life and even in death.
The wonderful paradox of laying down our lives for the Lord is found in Mark 10:30. You shall “receive a hundredfold now in this time … and in the age to come, eternal life. The blessings you will receive will far outweigh any material loss or persecution you may experience while serving Him. And your life will become an amazing adventure as you spread the Gospel—with miraculous signs confirming that you are indeed an ambassador of Christ!
Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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