34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34–35, NKJV)
Multitudes crowded around Jesus to be healed and to hear Him teach (Matt. 12:15; Mark 2:13; 3:7-9; 5:24). Undoubtedly many were caught up in the excitement of the moment. With compassion, Jesus taught, healed, and blessed the crowds (Mark 6:33-34; 8:1-9). Today’s passage teaches us what the Lord requires when we want to come to Him (Matt. 11:28). (1) Self-denial. We must tell ourselves “no” when we desire to go to Jesus. To follow Jesus, we must put away sin, not continue to live in it (Rom. 6:1-2; Gal. 2:20). We must love Jesus more than everyone else, including ourselves (Luke 14:26). (2) Take up our cross. The cross is a symbol of pain, shame, and suffering. To follow Jesus, we must accept the suffering that comes with being His disciple (John 15:18; 1 Pet. 4:12-13). (3) Follow Jesus. We do this by following His teachings. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31). Following Jesus is a lifelong commitment, not a momentary exuberance that fades as emotions subside. Jesus said, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Let us count the cost and pay the price of coming to Jesus and being His disciples (Luke 14:28-32). “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33).