I'd like to kind of break this verse down and look at it in a couple different lights, because it is so powerful:
- I was reading Beth Moore's "Jesus- 90 Days With the One and Only" and she said a very profound statement: All Satan needs to have momentary victory over a disciple is for us to have in mind the things of men. When we think like men, we become our own authorities, which, before we know it, can quickly lead to Satan's authority. Jesus has made it very clear: In order to follow Him, we must deny ourselves. In my opinion, I don't think Jesus is only just referring to our selfish desires and sins, but I believe He is saying, "Stop being your own authority. Give it up, let Me take control." In order to follow Him, that's exactly what we must do: follow. He is the leader. We are His followers. Have you not already realized you can't do it by yourself? It's time to deny our right to be our own leaders, and allow Christ to step in.
- What is so beautiful about Luke's version of this message over Matthews is one simple word: daily. This is a daily battle, a daily decision, a daily struggle. Every day you are given you have a choice to make: you will either deny yourself and carry His cross.. choosing to follow Him, or you will choose to do things your own way. When I think about this part of the verse, I think of us as being a part of a marathon. In a marathon, we need perseverance. At some points during the race, we are feeling great about ourselves, like nothing can defeat us or bring us down. Then at other times, it is a struggle. We just want to stop and give up. No one said it was going to be easy, but each day calls for perseverance to continue to "fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7). Keep up your endurance. Take up His cross.
- The last thing I want to highlight is the promise Jesus leaves us with. Although this race has its tough times, we can be encouraged by the promise Christ gives. He has made it very clear: If you aren't willing to take up your cross and make the daily decision, you will lose. However, the moment you decide to let Christ have the reigns, your life will be saved and you will have life to the fullest, most abundant way possible (John 10:10).