Websters defines the word “deny” as “state that one refuses to admit the truth or existence of; refuse to give or grant (something requested or desired) to someone”. “Deny” or “denies” is mentioned over 20 times in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (KJV). One particular text, though worded slightly different in each, is included in all of the Gospels but John. To paraphrase, “Anyone who wishes to follow me [Jesus] must deny himself, take up his cross, and then follow me” (Matt. 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23).
Now I don’t know about the rest of you but I feel that denying myself is a pretty big request. If we take the literal meaning in the correct context then Jesus is telling us that we must refuse to give or grant something to ourselves. Taken in the context of this verse, Jesus is telling his disciples that they must deny themselves as he has denied himself. SO, we must look at what Jesus denied himself in order to apply it to our lives. To do this we must look all the way back at Jesus’ first experience after being baptized by John at the very beginning of his ministry on Earth. In Luke 4:1 Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit to the wilderness and tempted by Satan. For forty days he did not eat or drink and at the end of those days he was tempted by Satan to use his infinite power to feed himself, take power over the Earth, and save himself from death. Jesus had the opportunity to turn stone into bread. He was given the chance to hold dominion over the entire world. He was told to challenge God by calling the angels of Heaven to his aid. In all these things Jesus had the ability and the right to do them, yet, he denied himself. Jesus followed a path that placed others ahead of himself, ahead of his desires.
So what does this mean for us? We don’t have those abilities. We can’t create food out of nothing or call out for angels to catch us at will. How do we relate to this supernatural occurrence when Jesus tells us to follow in his steps? We do have temptations though, don’t we? We are tempted to cheat on a test. We are tempted to take things that don’t belong to us. At work we may be tempted to log more hours than we work or bring home supplies from the office. At home we may be tempted to watch inappropriate shows or movies. Or listen to inappropriate music. In all these things we have the power to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. Remember, the infinite reward of Heaven far outweighs the temporary reward of the world. via Daily Prompt: Deny