“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
“Who do you say I am?” In this question Jesus looks us straight in the eye even after Easter: “Tell me—who am I?” People have given a variety of answers: John the Baptist, Elijah, a prophet, a pacifist, a storyteller, a miracle worker, a forerunner of Muhammad. Some even say Jesus was a fraud.
But you … who do you say he is?
Is he the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, the God-anointed king of Israel in David’s line (see Jeremiah 23:5-6)? Is he the Savior, the Messiah, the Christ born to set his people free from all their enemies—especially from sin and Satan? (See Matthew 1:21; Luke 2:11.)
If you say he is the Christ, then you must follow him as a disciple who is becoming like Christ (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18). As a Christian—a Christ follower— you should expect at least some of the kind of treatment and reception Jesus himself received from his enemies (see John 15:18-21). Jesus got a cross. Christians should expect a cross too, he said. No teacher, monk, or guru of any other religion ever taught that.
How literally are we to take this? Literally enough to deny all sin and its desires for the sake of the glory of God and his kingdom. Literally enough to be prepared to suffer—even to lose our life! And then to receive it back, for we live by resurrection faith!
Lord Jesus, help me to truly know who you are. Help me also to know who I am: your follower, called by your name (Christian), ready to take up my cross each day for you. Amen.
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