As we complete our ten days together in the life and teachings of Jesus, I want to leave you with these two Scriptures:

Luke 9.23-25 “Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?'”

Matthew 11.28-30 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Do these Scriptures seem a little contradictory to you? Which is it: deny yourself and take up your cross, or find rest carrying a light burden? I think this verses are complementary, not contradictory. In Luke, Jesus tells us that if we truly want to be his followers (and you’ve spent 10 days learning about it), we must deny ourselves. We can’t live self-centered lives and follow Jesus. And Matthew 11 tells us if we do follow Jesus, we will discover a life that is a natural fit–that we were made for.

Bill Tell says it this way: “Putting all this together – what do I hear Jesus saying? For me it sounds like this; ‘Don’t be fooled into thinking you independently know what is most fulfilling for you. Instead, come on a one way journey with me and don’t let those who criticize you cause you to turn around. Follow me because I want you to be with me, and I want to be with you. And in this relationship of ours, you will find life just as the Father and I have planned it for you – and nothing could be better.’”
“Taking Up Your Cross” Is Not What You Think

DO THIS TODAY TO FOLLOW JESUS: Realize that this is not the end of your journey to follow Jesus. It is only the beginning. It will take sacrifice. It will take denying yourself. You cannot be a self-centered person and a follower of Jesus at the same time. Commit to reading the Bible (why not start with more about Jesus–read the Gospel of Mark–just a paragraph each day), and talking to God about your life (prayer). This is a way to spend the time in solitude that we learned is so important.

PRAY THIS PRAYER: “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.” Amen (Psalm 25.4)