The Way of a Disciple

John Koedyker

Read: Mark 8:34-35

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (v. 34)

Often people describe their conversion as a “come to Jesus” moment. What they mean, of course, is that they finally realize that they need God in their lives and they “come to Jesus” for salvation. How important that is! But if you look at the words of Jesus in these verses, the coming to Jesus is the last thing he mentions.

Jesus begins with the all-important words “deny self.” That is probably one of the most difficult things for human beings to do. Adam and Eve, in the first chapters of the Bible, could not do it. They couldn’t deny themselves the beautiful forbidden fruit. And their original sin has been followed by the actual sins of every one of us ever since.

If we really want to follow Jesus, it all starts by saying “no” to self. We call that repentance. And repentance comes before faith and following Jesus. But even if we start to follow Jesus, we don’t somehow automatically become perfect. Following the Jesus way requires a continual dying to self—the taking up of our crosses. That is hard. But Jesus never asks us to do something he is not willing to do. Paul says in Philippians 2 that our attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus who “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (v. 8).

—John Koedyker

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow you until you take us home. Amen.