I would love to go through the Bible and take out all the uncomfortable stuff, you know, things like “love those that hate you” (Mat 5), or when Jesus talks about dying to self in (Mat 16).

I don’t know about you, but I happen to be one of my favorite people, this dying to self-stuff doesn’t really sit well with me.

One of the things that’s “uncomfortable” for me is find in our text before us now.

Luke 9:23 And He said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.

The first thing I want to draw your attention to is the phrase “And He said to them all.”

Both Matthew and Mark go out their way to make the point Jesus isn’t just talking to His disciples here, he’s talking to everyone.

Luke 9:23 And He said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

Also, notice the word “if”, this implies a choice. Jesus is saying here, “either you follow Me, or you don’t, the choice is yours”.

The nature of the choice

Luke 9:23 And He said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.

  1. Deny himself, means we are to surrender to God’s will, we are to lay aside our wants and desires and replace them with God’s wants and desires
  2. Take up your cross, this means to identify with Jesus and His message.
  3. Follow Jesus means to follow His example.


You might be thinking, “what’s so uncomfortable about that?

The uncomfortable part is, if this is true, this means I’m not the center of the universe.

If we were to look at modern Christianity, we would see the necessity for this challenge!

Instead of preaching and teaching the gospel of the cross, we preach and teach cross-free Christianity.

With the remaining time that we have here:

  1. I want to talk about the necessity of cross bearing.
  2. why we don’t like the cross
  3. I want to challenge you carry your cross.

The necessity of cross bearing

A Jesus that does not require you to take up your cross isn’t the real Jesus.

Luke 9:23 And He said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Jesus doesn’t promise us our best life now, because if this life represents our best life, it would mean that are on our way to hell.

This is it, this is the best it’s going to get, so we might as well enjoy ourselves here on earth.

Jesus looks at anyone that would follow Him right in the eye and tells them it’s going to cost you something.

Discipleship without cost, is not discipleship. Going to Heaven is free, but being like Jesus will always cost you something.

This means… If you have been following Jesus, and it hasn’t cost you something, then the Jesus you’re following isn’t the real Jesus.

Churches are full of people that are following a fictional Jesus… they have an imaginary friend named Jesus that allows them to do whatever they want without consequence.

That’s not the Jesus of the Bible, the Jesus of the Bible bids us to come and die!

Therefore, a Jesus that doesn’t call you to deny yourself isn’t the real Jesus. Which leads us to our next point.

We can’t have Jesus without His cross

Luke 9:23 And He said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

Jesus tells us plainly, we can’t have Him with the cross, so if we want to really follow Jesus, then we must embrace His cross. Which begs the question, why don’t we like the cross?

We don’t like the cross because of what it symbolizes.

The cross is symbolic of hatred.

One of the things that blows my mind is when Christians here in America face a little persecution, and they are surprised by it. Jesus said this “if the world hates you, keep in mind that they hated me first” (John 15:18).

Think about it, the guy we follow was murdered by the government! Jesus didn’t die in a retirement home, they killed Him.

To be specific they crucified Him! Let me droop a little historical knowledge on you, they didn’t crucify people that they liked.

It’s not like they said things like, “hey is that Fred over there? What a great guy, let’s crucify Him”.

For the people that have ever seen the movie the “Passion” you know what a hateful act crucifixion is. To identify with Christ is to reject the world, which will cause the world to hate us.

The cross is symbolic of being an outsider.

By law, a Roman citizen could not be crucified, the fact that Jesus died on the cross was sign that Jesus was seen as an outsider.

  • Not only was He rejected by the Jewish people,
  • He was rejected by everyone even His own disciples.

This is important for us to remember because what Paul said in (Phil 3:20) “our citizenship is in heaven.”

The point that Paul was making is as Christians, we are not supposed to get too comfortable in this world, because we don’t belong here.

When we take our cross, we are acknowledging the fact that we are outsiders, that Heaven is our home, and that we are just passing through.

The cross is symbolic of shame.

They striped you naked in front of everyone and mocked you. When you take up your cross this means people will try to shame you for following Jesus, and that’s okay because there is a difference between someone trying to shame you, and ashamed.

The world will try to shame us; however, it is our choice whether or not we are going to be ashamed.  


Why don’t we like the cross? because of what it symbolizes!

  1. Hatred
  2. Being an outsider
  3. And shame

We don’t like the cross because it is confrontational.

The cross confronts us with our sinfulness.

The reason Jesus had to die on the cross is because of our sin. C.H. Spurgeon said this “if you see your sin as small, then you’ll see your Savoir as small”.

As followers of Jesus if we see our sin as no big deal, then we will see God’s grace as no big deal, not to take sin seriously, is not to take grace seriously.

To have a proper view of grace is to see sin for what it is, rebellion, not just a mistake, in other words, sin is you picking sides.

God takes sin so seriously; He responds in one of two ways, hell, and the murder of Jesus! Taking up your cross means that you are honest with God and yourself about how serious your sin is.

The cross confronts us with our inadequacy.

God demands righteousness, and we fall short. You see the gospel is not good advice, it’s good news!

If the gospel were good advice, then there would be no need for Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, all He would have had to do is come down from heaven and gives us some nice platitudes, feed the poor, be good to your neighbor, and that would be that.

But that’s not what the gospel is, the gospel in its essences is, you are inadequate.

There’s nothing you can do to satisfy God’s righteous demands, Jesus said “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees’, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:20).

For some of us the best thing that could happen to us is to figure out that we’re inadequate, that the pressures of everyday life are completely beyond our ability to deal with.

Jesus said to Paul that “my strength is made perfect in weakness” to which Paul responds by saying “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities” (2nd Co 12:9).

We have it backwards, instead of hiding the fact that sometimes we can’t handle life, instead we should humbly admit that we need the grace of God.

Because, if God’s strength is made “perfect” through my weakness, then my weakness shouldn’t be something that I’m ashamed of. Because is the very thing that brings glory to God.

I want you think, if any of you were to look at my life and think to yourself “That Levi’s got it figured out, he knows what he’s doing” I would have failed as a Christian! Why? Because everything we do is supposed to point to the all sufficiency of Christ, not the sufficiency of Levi. 

If I don’t need Christ in my life, then why do the people at my work need Christ in their lives? If you’re not resting in the sovereignty of God, then why should they believe anything you have to say about the gospel?

If I was unsaved and saw you putting your life in the hands of Jesus, I might not get saved, but I would at least listen to what you had to say about Him.

Our job as Christians is to show the spiritually blind, and tell the spiritually deaf, about the power of Jesus Christ, how can we hope to do that on our own.

If we don’t realize how completely helpless, we are apart from Him, then how will we be able to do the work. Taking up your cross means to admit that you need Him!

The cross confronts us with a choice.

Jesus says in Luke 9, that we are to take up our cross daily. We must on purpose choose to follow Jesus every day.

Just like Jesus on purpose chose to go to the cross every day of His life. Every temptation resisted, was a choice to go to the cross.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said this “Discipleship never consist in this or that action, it is always a decision, either for, or against Jesus Christ”.

it’s not enough that we made decision to follow Jesus last year, we must keep making that same decision over and over again.

Taking up your cross means that we on purpose chose to deny ourselves and follow Jesus. No one has ever followed Jesus on accident, the same is true of us, we must choose.  

The challenge

The challenge is this, do you believe the words of Jesus, Luke 9:24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it

While it is true that being like Jesus will always cost you something, the price we pay is nothing compared to the reward we receive.

It was Jim Elliot that said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Jim Elliot died on the mission field, if we were able to ask him if all the sacrifices, he made for Jesus were worth it, he would say, “what sacrifice?”

Jesus goes on to say, Luke 9:25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away

Which is to say, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.[1]

what does it matter if you have everything this word has to offer, it will end when the world ends, and all the time you spent pursuing it will be a waste.