“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Father Matta El-Meskeen (Matthew the Poor)
AN’S GREATEST WORK is to follow Christ, while the tendency of man’s work is always self-serving, and all who seek self always end up losing themselves. The self always seeks the world’s glories, and the world’s glories will all pass away. This is why Christ put in place the condition that the one who follows him must deny himself, because denying oneself empties man of what the self seeks. So that man proves that he does not seek what is self-serving he offers his self to be lost, and this is the meaning of carrying the cross. The one who carries his cross is a man who every day exposes his self to destruction. Here, for the man who carries his cross and follows him, Christ rectifies by his tender hand and redeeming Spirit this gradual abandonment by saying that the one who “loses his life for me will find it.” He means by finding it that he will make a place for him with Christ and God. The one who finds his self safely keeps it for eternal life. Brethren, in this way the path of the man who follows Christ will certainly come to a happy ending, above all the world and all its glories.
The one who wants to follow Christ with all his heart will find the happiness of eternal life with Christ, while the one who runs from following him will find a life that ends in miserable loss of the heavenly glory.
Look, my beloved, which of the two do you choose, and for which will you live? In this verse Christ leaves it up to you, but what Christ conceals behind this verse is his marvelous self, for he welcomes all who come to him and embraces all who follow him. He lifts the burden of the weight of the cross from the one who is determined to carry the cross. Know, my friend, that the cross is carried by Christ alone, he monopolizes it, and on no condition does he allow anyone else to carry it. Christ says, ‘Carry your cross and follow me,’ to test the freedom of your will, so the moment you determine to carry it, he lifts it off of you because it is his property alone, and no one dare lift Christ’s cross from him!! Look at the cavernous meanings of the verse, for Christ himself is the mystery of all his sayings. He brings them before you without letting go of them, so you cannot take them independent of him.
One of the great encouragements of life in Christ is that he gave an eternal promise that he is with us every day through the eternal ages. His presence with us means joyful fellowship in which he takes from us all our burdens, and he performed the ideal example of this with the cross, in which he carried upon his body all the sins of man. It was not a difficult commission given him by his Father, but look and wonder at the Father’s intention in his Son’s cross, which Christ explained by his own lips saying, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Now look, my friend, in wonder at how the Father agreed with the Son for the Son to destroy his body on the cross on behalf of every man, so that every man will be rescued and win eternal life. For this reason, when we speak of salvation we have no choice but to first and before all things give the glory to the Father, for Christ rose by the glory of the Father so that the glory of the Father remains on our lips through all ages.
Now, to start over, God the Father is prepared to intervene by his glory on behalf of the one who, in his desire to follow the Son, denies himself and carries the cross of his Son. So then, what we extract from this is that, with every follower of Christ who denies himself and carries his cross every day, the Father meets in his fatherhood and glory and gives him full fellowship with him.
October 4, 2005
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