A fresh start gives us the opportunity to follow Jesus in a new and meaningful way. So, what does that new and meaningful way look like? Here’s how Jesus explained it.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
In this short passage, Jesus explained that following him involves something that must take place on the inside—we must deny ourselves—and something that must take place on the outside—we must take up our cross. Let’s consider what these two actions involve.
To deny ourselves means that we are determined, by the strength of the Holy Spirit, to live a life that pleases the One we follow. We refuse to set our minds and desires against the authority that Jesus has in our lives. We are willing to drop the things that weigh us down and live each day with a fresh start. We need to be those who confess our sins, knowing he is faithful to forgive and cleanse us (1 John 1:9).
Take up Your Cross
A person on the way to their crucifixion was forced to carry their cross. Carrying the cross through the heart of the city was meant to show the onlookers that the Roman Empire was right. Jesus turned what was forced by the Romans into something that believers do with joy. When we “take up our cross,” we tell the world that Jesus and his way are right, and we gladly follow him—even to death. Also, carrying the cross was a one-way journey. The cross-bearer would not return. Carrying our cross is a vivid picture that we are on a one-way journey with Jesus. We will not return to the old life.
Denying yourself and taking up your cross is essential for a fresh start.
Lord Jesus, you ask us to do for you only what you have done for us. Thank you for denying yourself by becoming a man and being obedient—even to death on the cross. Thank you for literally carrying the cross for us all the way to your sacrificial death. Help us to respond in sincere love and appreciation for all you have done. Help us follow hard after you. Amen.