Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24 ESV
This instruction from Jesus came right after Peter rebuked Jesus when He told the disciples about his upcoming death and resurrection. Jesus answered Peter in v. 23 ‘“Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”’ Jesus told Peter that he was a hindrance to Him because Peter was focusing on earthly things versus Heavenly things - he was in the way because he was focused on the wrong things.
How many times have you rebuked God for something you felt He had done wrong? Maybe you have felt like He placed you in an unfair situation, led you to the wrong friends, the wrong spouse, the wrong place, the wrong timing, the short end of the stick. Maybe you have been tempted to cling to your own desires and plans instead of seeking His. Maybe you have put yourself before God, before your family, before your friends, before strangers, before the needy. Maybe you have sought what you wanted, only willing to make sacrifices for your own gains.
Peter and the other disciples were told God’s plan, and instead of Peter accepting that it was God’s will he sought to take matters into his own hands as if he, a human being like you and I, could stop the plans of the Almighty God. Jesus then went on to teach them that to follow Jesus means to deny yourself, sacrifice your desires, carry the weight of your cross, follow in Jesus’ footsteps and be willing to lay down your life for God’s will as Jesus was and Jesus did.
To follow Christ, we must be willing to sacrifice all that we have to serve and follow our Savior. He must come first, and our hearts and minds must stay focused on things of God. Don’t let the troubles, temptations, and things of this world hold you captive and prevent you from following His will for your life and sharing His Truth with the world. Surrender it all to Him, and follow Him willingly, denying yourself, and you will find yourself in following Christ.