The Son of God prophesied that He would be crucified on an uncompromising Roman cross. It was so hard for His disciples to understand this that they simply couldn’t take it in. Yet His powerful message of the Kingdom of God was stirring up the whole nation.1 Everyone knew this was a very special man. Some people even speculated that He was John the Baptist come back to life. Others thought he was the prophet Elijah or another one of the holy prophets of old. Then He turned to His disciples and asked them who they thought He was. Peter gave Him his famous response, “The Christ of God.”
His response to Peter’s marvelous words they never forgot. He told them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”2
To take up one’s own cross is to die to one’s past life, forsaking all he has in order to enter into the covenant He established with His own blood. One either dies upon the cross or flees from it. He spelled out in plain, unmistakable terms what that death meant in the lives of those who believed in Him. As He told His beloved friend Peter after He rose from the dead, some would suffer physically as He did.3 Yet all were called to die to themselves and surrender all that the world held of value, especially the love of money and the security of possessions.
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”4
So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. (Luke 14:33)
To the one who is willing to do His will,5 the uncompromising death to self and the world He speaks of in these verses is the fragrance of life. To the one who is not willing, it is the stench of death.6 It is vitally important that we understand who He is, what He has done for us, and what He requires of those who would follow Him.
His uncompromising message to us was that if we wanted to follow Him, it would cost us everything — just like it cost Him. He made it very clear it would cost us our possessions, families, and even our own lives.7 Nothing else is worthy of Him.8 Anything less is another gospel, preached in the power of another spirit.9 He made it clear that those who follow Him would have a life and a cross that corresponded to His. He called us to suffer against sin, just like He did — to crucify our flesh (sinful nature) with it’s ungodly passions and desires that would make us worthy of eternal death.
We will only live with Him if we have died with Him. To die with Him means we must give up now what one gives up on his deathbed.10 Our last will and testament is that we belong to him, and He can do with us whatever He wants to. Just like Him, it is to be our Father’s will, not ours.11 A dead man cannot change his will. Anything less than this is compromising His message and is not a true covenant, and we will not be saved. These are His terms of peace. He has already done His part; ours is to respond to His love demonstrated on the cross.
Yahshua didn’t place any limitations on His love for us — He went all the way. If there are limitations on our love for Him, then we don’t really know Him — we haven’t died with Him.12 To flee the cross is to flee salvation from the eternal sea of fire. To receive the cross is to overcome all fear to die with Messiah. If we take identity with Him in this life then we will share in His eternal destiny.