Luke 9:21-26 And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; 22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. 23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.
The follow are comments by Walter Chantry. They continue to bless me!
"Only one entrance may be found to the Kingdom of God. There is a narrow gate set at the head of the path of life. "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:14). No one with an inflated ego can squeeze through the door. There must be self-effacement, self-repudiation, self-denial, even to become a disciple (a student) of Jesus Christ.
Our Saviour made His demand quite clear by explicitly requiring self-denial. He then re-emphasized the point by using a vivid illustration of renouncing one's self―an illustration he would soon seal with His blood, "Let him deny himself, and take up his cross." Six times in the Gospels our great Prophet refers to His followers' taking up a cross. It was one of His favorite illustrations of self-denial. At other times He would speak of selling all, or of losing one's life.
"Cross" is a word that first brings to our minds the picture of our Lord on Calvary. We think of Him bleeding while fastened to an instrument designed to inflict an agonizing death. Then perhaps we expand the idea of taking up a cross by thinking of Stephen who was stoned to death, or of Peter and John, who were beaten and put into prison, and of other martyrs across the ages. In the light of such courageous physical suffering, the Christian at ease may say to himself, "I don't have any cross to bear." Perhaps this repeated demand of Christ even brings alarm to your consciences as you read it over and over in Scripture.
Some who call themselves "Christian" in fact have never taken up their crosses. Being ignorant of the experience of self-execution, of self-denial, they are of necessity strangers to Christ. Our Lord Himself intended His illustration and His demand to deepen alarm in such individuals. If this is your condition, then there can be no relief to conviction but in taking up your cross and following Him.
Others, however, are true servants of Christ but feel a sense of dismay through a misunderstanding of our Lord's demand. It is quite possible to have taken up your cross and not to know it. Careful examination of our Lord's meaning will then be an encouragement.
In either case, the subject is vital to you. Your Master's life was dominated by a cross. He has called you also to a life with a cross. This clear gospel note is so easy to forget in flabby Western society. With a great chorus of custom, advertisement, and temptation, this world is beckoning you to a life of self-indulgence. Your flesh is drawn to that appeal, and will fall in with the world's suggestions. But the Lord of glory has called you to a life of self-denial, to a cross.
The demand of bearing a cross is universal. It is made of all who follow Christ, without exception. Our Lord addressed these words "to all," not to a select few who walked nearer to Christ. Mark 8:34 indicates that this mandate was not issued to the twelve alone. It was spoken 'when he had called the people unto Him with his disciples'. The cross is required for "any man" who will go after Him. There are no peculiar cases released from this necessity. Repeatedly our Lord was emphatic that none could be considered His disciple in any sense unless he bore a cross. "And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:38).
Again in Luke 14:27 our Saviour turned to a multitude following Him, to insist, "Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple." It is an absolute impossibility to be a Christian without self-denial. Whether you live in a Christian land or in a culture hostile to God's Word, you must bear a cross.
The only way to avoid the cross is to follow the world to hell. As verse 24 explains, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it." The "for" indicates a connection with the preceding verse. Religion without self-denial will not endure the judgment.
It is this most obvious aspect of our Lord's teaching which has been forgotten or ignored by modern evangelism. Anxious to bring sinners to life, peace, and joy in the Lord, evangelists have failed even to mention that Christ insists upon denial of self at the outset. Having failed to pass on our Lord's requirement, and forgetting it themselves, evangelists have never questioned whether their "converts" with self-centered lives are true followers of Christ. "