If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
Denying ourselves is a voluntary and conscientious act. We make a definite decision which is equivalent to a complete and absolute surrender to our God. In doing so, we accept His plan for our lives and hand over the control to Him. He can make changes in accordance with His plan and purpose for our lives. To deny oneself and follow Jesus does not signify losing or winning. It does not nullify oneself but rather opens the way to be raised to the most noble standard of God’s plan for our lives. To follow Jesus has consequences. To take up a cross involves struggle. “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you,” Jesus said. (John 15:24) It means identification with Him who was crucified. But there is also another truth involved. “Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you will be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.”
The ultimate consequence of following the Lord is not death by crucifixion, but life eternal through resurrection.
“I am the resurrection and the life … and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 22:25)
Andrés Noriega, from Cuba