Mark 8:34 And Jesus called [to Him] the throng with His disciples and said to them, If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself [forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interests] and take up his cross, and [joining Me as a disciple and siding with My party] follow with Me [continually, cleaving steadfastly to Me].
The cross shows us a picture of suffering and also of death. After Jesus endured the cross, He died. Pretty self-explanatory, but I had to look up the meaning of the word died anyways. It means to stop existing, stop living, to depart from life, give out, or give up just to name a few. We sort of covered this when we talked about denying ourselves, but dying is a step further than denial. When you are denying yourself, it means that a desire still exists you just won’t give into it. When you are dead to that desire, it’s not that you’re just not allowing yourself to have something, but that you don’t even want it anymore. Denial means, although I still want to eat that piece of gooey chocolate cake I don’t. Death means even if you put a piece of fresh-baked chocolate cake, with fudgy swirled icing on top in front of me that I am not even tempted because I truly don’t want it. It has ceased to appeal to me. It’s a whole ‘nother level.
Again, who better to look to as an example but Jesus? I think of the time He was in the desert for 40 days, fasting and praying. The account can be found in Luke chapter 4. You would think He would be at His weakest point. (I’ve done an extended fast a few times, never for 40 days but lengthy nonetheless, and toward the end of the fast I know I felt weak, hungry and easily tired.) In fact it says in Luke 4:2 that Jesus was hungry at the end of His fast, and He was approached by the devil who first tried to get Him to fulfill a natural desire- hunger- by turning stones into bread. We know Jesus could have done it if He wanted to, and I imagine a piping hot loaf of bread would’ve tasted pretty good about that time. Jesus didn’t have to deny Himself though, because He was dead to His hunger. In verse 4 He says 4And Jesus replied to him, It is written, Man shall not live and be sustained by (on) bread alone but by every word and expression of God. Since He couldn’t get Jesus that way, he moved on to something else. Verses 5-7 5Then the devil took Him up to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the habitable world in a moment of time [in the twinkling of an eye]. 6And he said to Him, To You I will give all this power and authority and their glory (all their magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, and grace), for it has been turned over to me, and I give it to whomever I will. 7Therefore if You will do homage to and worship me [just once], it shall all be Yours. We know that in the end, when all is said and done, that Jesus will rule and reign over all. However, He had to pay a price, His very life. The devil tried to get Him to take the easy way out, and instead of dying, He would be able to rule right then and there. Again Jesus spoke up verse 8 And Jesus replied to him, Get behind Me, Satan! It is written, You shall do homage to and worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve. In a last ditch effort verses 9-11 9Then he took Him to Jerusalem and set Him on a gable of the temple, and said to Him, If You are the Son of God, cast Yourself down from here; 10For it is written, He will give His angels charge over you to guard and watch over you closely and carefully; 11And on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. Note what Satan says in verse 9- If You Are the Son of God. Since Jesus was dead to the natural desire-hunger, and the mental desire- take the easy way out, the enemy tried one more time. He tried to make Jesus question who He was, and use His authority in a wrong way to prove it. BUT our guy steps up one last time and says verse 12 And Jesus replied to him, [The Scripture] says, You shall not tempt (try, test exceedingly) the Lord your God.
In each of these instances Jesus was so numb to His own personal desires, that the temptation wasn’t appealing. There was nothing that could have enticed Him to do anything different than what His Father told Him to do. What things in your life do you need to die to? Are there areas that you are denying yourself in, but that you need to take the next step and let die? The best way to do this is do as Jesus did. Get the Word coming out of your mouth! I’ll leave you with this last thought from Paul. In his letter to the Philippians, In Philippians 1:20-21 He says 20 This is in keeping with my own eager desire and persistent expectation and hope, that I shall not disgrace myself nor be put to shame in anything; but that with the utmost freedom of speech and unfailing courage, now as always heretofore, Christ (the Messiah) will be magnified and get glory and praise in this body of mine and be boldly exalted in my person, whether through (by) life or through (by) death. 21For me to live is Christ [His life in me], and to die is gain [the gain of the glory of eternity]. Although Paul was talking about a natural death we can apply this to our topic today. To die is gain. Regardless of what you may think you are letting go of, what you are grabbing hold of is even greater.