Jesus said: If someone wants to come after me…
That’s a liberating conditional: “If someone wants to.” If you want to, you might go or not; you choose, no imposition; with Jesus, “master of free men,” “source of free lives,” is only if you want.
First: self-denial. A dangerous verb if misunderstood. To deny yourself does not mean to nullify yourself or kill those things that make you unique. It means to stop thinking only about yourself constantly and permanently making it about yourself. Our secret is not in us; it is beyond us. Martin Buber sums up man’s journey this way, “starting from you, but not for you.” For he who looks only at himself never becomes enlightened.
The second condition is to take up one’s cross and go with him to the end. It is one of the Gospel’s most famous and misunderstood phrases. The cross inhabits everyone’s psyche and hangs around the neck of many; sometimes used as a synonym for misfortunes and death, it doesn’t honor its true meaning.
Peter endorsed Jesus as a freedom-giver Messiah during Palestine’s Roman occupation. When Jesus affirmed going to the cross, bewildered Peter wailed: Why you, Jesus? Please, may it never happen!
Therefore, Peter’s cross involves fears, burdens, and ambitions that narrow his expectations and paralyze him. Take those up like a cross, don’t let them suck your life; with Jesus and prayer, let the dawn start.
Fears, insecurities, bitterness, etc., what crosses do you need to carry?