Taking up your cross

Luke 9:18-23
18 And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?”
19They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.”
20And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”
21But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone,
22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.”
23And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

Jesus starts by asking a simple question, “Who do the people say that I am?” Peter answers by saying the people think that Jesus is John the Baptist or Elijah, a little different than what we would expect.
Why did people think that Jesus was one of these people?
What did John the Baptist do that would make him seem like Christ?
He walked with God and delivered God’s message.
What did Elijah do that would make him seem like Christ?
He walked with God.
Whose will and mission were these men trying to accomplish, their own? NO, these men were focused entirely on doing the will of the Lord at all costs.
So again, why did the crowd think that Jesus was one of these men? They all lived lives that reflected the will of God as number one.
If they were able to live this type of life without the Holy Spirit, then how much more should we be reflecting the will of the Father with the Holy Spirit indwelling our lives and helping us out?
The next question that Jesus asks is a lot more personal. He asked “Who do *you* say that I am?”
Peter replies by saying “the Christ of God”
What did this mean? Christ wasn’t a name. It was a title meaning messiah or God’s anointed one. Paul was making a confession that he believed that Jesus is God’s chosen Person sent to redeem all of humanity, not just in man’s eyes, but God’s. “the Christ of God” Jesus is sent by God to do His will.
Verse 23 describes three things that we need to come after Jesus.
Deny self – Do not be centered on yourself. Following God means that He is number one in your life, not that you are number one in God’s will. Deny yourself completely, because putting God first and yourself second is still going to distract you from God’s will. You are not a priority at all. If you are focusing on yourself at all then you are not focused fully on God.
Take up your cross – A cross is not a fashion statement. It isn’t meant to be just something you wear around your neck on a necklace. A cross is the unrelenting symbol of death. Where in this verse does it say that if we follow God then we will be blessed with riches and great health and a perfect body? NEVER! Following Christ means we take up our cross and die to ourselves and to the world daily and live only to accomplish the will of the Father at any cost.
Follow Christ – Only after we have died to ourselves can we follow Christ.
Christians, you have a job to do, and it is one that is more important than anything in your life currently.
Evangelizing is super important and we all need to do it, but I’m talking about more than that.
How can we witness to others if we are not following God?
How can we, if our lives do not reflect Christ’s?
John the Baptist and Elijah followed God in their daily lives to the point where people thought Jesus was one of them. How about your life? Does it reflect a life of someone who is truly following God? Or does your life look like everyone else’s?
I heard a frightening saying that I fully believe in.

The number one cause of athiesm in the world today is Christians, who confess Jesus with their lips, but deny him by their lifestyle. – DC Talk

You may be eternally secure in your relationship to God, but how many people are going to hell because they are sickened by or tired of our hypocritical lives?
I know a lot of people who do not believe in God but were raised in church or Christian homes and saw the hypocrisy. Everybody from their parents, church members, deacons, and even pastors did not take up their cross or live lives that reflected Jesus. And now, as a result, many people are athiests and going to hell because of it.
Who can blame them?
How many people are drawn to or turned away from Christianity because of your lifestyle while you claim to follow God? I’m not talking about living perfectly, but does your life reflect the life of Jesus so that others can “see” Him through your life and actions?

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