"And then He said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23 NIV).
Jesus had just predicted his death and persecution before he spoke the above words to the apostles. Jesus knew what he faced, but the apostles did not have a clue to the extent of the abuse Jesus would take in order for them to have eternal life.
Later as Jesus was praying in agony over His upcoming scourging and crucifixion, the apostles were laying sleeping. He had told them to pray so that they would not fall into temptation, but they slept instead. Amazing isn't it? That these men who had followed Jesus for over three years didn't notice that He was in anguish. Why didn't they pray with Him? Later these men who were hand picked by the Lord, would all run away from Him when he was arrested.
Why did Jesus tell the men to pray that they wouldn't fall into temptation? These men were about to be tested and they needed to pray that they would be strong and not give in, but when Jesus was taken away by the guards all of His disciples ran away. Peter denied Him three times. They failed the test, but learned a great lesson about temptation and prayer. It would have been wiser for these disciples to pray that they would not give in to temptation instead of sleeping in the garden.
We too must be on our guard at all times, praying that we don't give into temptation. Our human selves desire things that aren't always pleasing to God. As Christians we have a responsibility to our Savior to act and do what is pleasing to Him. Denying ourselves and taking up our cross daily is something we should be constantly praying about. The disciples let fear take over their thoughts and their loyalty to their teacher was forgotten when guards with swords came into the picture. We must not let fear stop us from witnessing to others. So many people are lost in darkness and need us to show them the Savior and how His love can free them from sin.
It isn't easy to carry a cross but consider the agony Christ suffered for you and what you can do for Him, who gave His very life so that you can have life everlasting someday. Pray that you won't fall into temptation and that you will not run away when Christ needs you the most to witness for Him where ever you may be.
Take up your cross daily and remember that Christ is in you enabling you carry it and will give you the strength to handle any temptation that comes your way.
Help us as we deny ourselves and take up our crosses every day. Give us your strength to do your will in our lives. We know that nothing is impossible with you. Thank you for helping us to be brave and not run away from the tasks you have set before us.
In Jesus' name,
My husband and I have been in the ministry in one form or another for 37 years. I have had several poems published in the local newspaper. I write devotionals for my co-workers and friends. I own this article and have full rights.