I have almost always heard this passage interpreted and applied to our lives in this way: we have to die to ourselves. Sacrifice. Give up a lot. But it’s worth it because if we run after what the world runs after, we may get it but we’ll lose our souls.
This may be true. But I’m wondering if we’ve been missing a big part of what Jesus was saying here.
What if, since he knew why he was going to the cross (and often made forward looking statements to his disciples which they rarely seemed to understand), he is also saying: “Bring your sins with you. Nail them up here every day. Your “false self” wants you to hang on to them. That’s your flesh, and your flesh would keep them and nurture them and let them grow. But they will kill you. Let me take them, every day.”
We often fixate on the sacrifice we are supposed to make in this equation. But in so doing, we are forgetting the ultimate sacrifice that he made – the one that matters most. Today, as we take up our crosses to follow Jesus, let us allow his incredible, unearned, undeserved grace to wash over us. He has paid the price. Taking up our cross is not only an act of our dying to our selves, it is an act of his dying for us.
Or as Paul said, “who will rescue me from this body of death?! Thanks be to God, through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Grace and Peace,