Self Denial

“And he said unto all, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”
“And he said unto all, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”


— St. Luke 9:23-24

When Jesus tells us we must follow him, he speaks first and always as the Son of the Father—and that in the active sense, as the obedient God, the Son who came expressly and only to do the will of the Father. At the moment he says Follow me, he is following the Father. It is nothing even thus to think of him, except thus we believe in him—that is, we do as he does. We must believe in him practically; we do not follow him by holding this or that theory about why he died, or wherein lay his atonement: such things can be revealed only to those who follow him in his active being and the principle of his life—who do as he did, live as he lived. There is no other following. He is all for the Father; we must be all for the Father too, else are we not following him. To follow him is to be learning of him, to think his thoughts, use his judgments, feel things as he felt them, that we may be of the same mind with his Father. Busy from morning to night doing great things for him on any other road, we should but earn the reception, “I never knew you.” When he says, “Take my yoke upon you,” he does not mean a yoke which he would lay upon our shoulders; it is the yoke he himself is carrying that he tells us to take. He says, “The yoke I carry is easy, the burden on my shoulders is light.” With the garden of Gethsemane before him, with the hour and the power of darkness waiting for him, he declares his yoke easy, his burden light. He first denies himself, and takes up his cross, then tells us to do the same. The Father magnifies the Son, not the Son himself; the Son magnifies the Father.