“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Sometimes I feel unworthy of Jesus. I feel like I’m too unholy, too prone to sin and temptation, just not good enough. Thankfully, I know that those things have been made completely null and void by Christ’s sacrifice. I know that I am worthy, not because of anything I did, but because of what God did through Christ to reconcile my sinful self to his perfect self. I have been made clean by the blood of Christ, and no sin can separate me from the love of God.
But then I come across this verse. Jesus himself says, “whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” And quickly all of the worry of unworthiness starts to come back into my mind.
How does all of this line up? Am I worthy? Am I not? How do I know?
The truth is, by ourselves, we are all unworthy. But with Christ, we are made holy, made perfect as he is perfect, made worthy by his worthiness. The question then, isn’t whether we’re good enough. The question is whether we’re in Christ.
Jesus doesn’t say this because there is some standard, some quantifiable mark to reach where we become worthy of him. He doesn’t say it so that we’ll try to get crucified in order to be worthy of him. He doesn’t want us to carry around a literal cross. He is saying that whoever is in Christ will be made worthy, and whoever does not believe and is not in Christ will not be made worthy.
The catch is that to be in Christ, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross with him. We must put to death the desires of the flesh and be joined with him in a new life by the Holy Spirit. But what does all of this mean? To put it simply, to be worthy of Christ, you must be willing to live for him and with you. You must be willing to deny your own interests in favor of others. You must be willing to serve. You must be willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel. You must be willing to follow in his footsteps. In doing so, we take up our cross, are crucified with Christ, die to ourselves, and are joined with him in his resurrection.
Take up your cross. Believe in Jesus and live as he lived, serve as he served, humble yourself as he was humble. Join with him in his death by denying your own flesh and instead living by the Holy Spirit inside of you. Then, we are made worthy by his blood, by his sacrifice, and by his love.
Help me to have faith enough to take up my cross and follow Christ. Make me worthy by his perfect sacrifice.
In Jesus’ Name,