Albert Lasker, was a prominent businessman and advertising tycoon who lived in the early 20th century. He became known as “the father of modern advertising.”
The story is told that Lasker requested one of his top executives to move from California to the home office in New York. When the man refused, Lasker tried this approach.
A few days later he called the executive into his office and announced, “I’ve just made a new will. And I have designated that you succeed me as the CEO of the business. That means you will have to leave California when the time comes and move to New York. Do you agree?
“Yes,” the executive replied.
“You will do that for me?” asked Lasker.
“You would do that for me when I’m dead?”
“Yes, Yes, I will,” repeated the executive.
“Then, why,” demanded Lasker, “won’t you do it for me while I’m alive?”
The executive changed his mind and moved to New York.
In one of the great verses of the Bible, Luke 9:23, Jesus calls for even a greater commitment from his followers than just moving across the country.
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
There are three key qualities enunciated by Jesus as requirements for discipleship.
(1) Deny yourself.
Jesus asks us to say “no” to our selves. This is commitment that is greater than just denying one’s self of personal comfort, pleasures or possessions. It is giving up self-gratification. Self-indulgence. Self-centeredness. Self-interest.
Denying self goes against the grain. It’s not what our self-seeking culture is about. Everything today is geared toward self-satisfaction. Self-love. Self-devotion.
Jesus calls for self-denial. Self-sacrifice. Self-abasement. Self-control. Self-discipline.
(2) Take up your cross daily.
I recently saw a news video of a man from Memphis, Nick Moore, walking across Texas with cross. He says he’s doing it to commemorate the death, suffering and sacrifice of Jesus. Interestingly, I noticed the cross is equipped with wheels and he’s pushing it. And ironically, he had strapped to the cross a thermos of water!
This is not what Jesus had in mind. He already bore his cross. The text is speaking of YOUR cross. MY cross. It is our sacrifice. Our devotion. Our personal commitment. It is our gift. It is using our time, talent and treasure to benefit His Cause, instead of selfishly using it all for our own. It is working for his glory, and not our own praise.
This is not once a year. Or once a month. Or once a week. Like on Sunday. Jesus said, “daily.” Each day we take up our cross. Every day we live for the Lord. Daily we look for ways to make a difference. To give. To serve. To shine.
(3) Follow Me.
This is the natural result of self-denial and cross bearing. He is the motivation for what we do, who we are, and how we live.
Following Jesus leads to ministry. Following Jesus leads us to involvement in the lives of others. And not just the comfortable environment of fellow Christians. But it leads us to interact with the less fortunate who need our help. With sinners with whom we can share the Word. With opponents of Christianity to whom we can give a defense of the gospel.
Following Jesus leads us to Bible study. Prayer. Worship. And fellowship. Following Jesus leads to an intimate relationship with the Father.
In the words of hymn writer Eliza E. Hewitt, “Who Will Follow Jesus?”
Who will follow Jesus,
Standing for the right,
Holding up His banner
In the thickest fight?
Listening for His orders,
Ready to obey,
Who will follow Jesus,
Serving Him today?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman