March 21: “Denying Self in Order to Follow Jesus”

5 Minute Read

Today’s Bible Reading:

Numbers 32:1-33:39
Luke 4:31-5:11
Psalm 64:1-10
Proverbs 11:22

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Luke 5:11 (NLT): “And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

The verse for today is a beautiful and powerful word picture.

For those involved in the original story, it meant that they gave up their fishing aspirations. They gave up what they knew and what they had planned to do the rest of their lives. They gave it up because they couldn’t be fishermen and follow Jesus simultaneously. So, they turned their backs on fishing and followed Jesus.

For us, it is a clear reminder of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus. To fully follow Jesus, we must give up good things so that we can gain better things.

Luke 9:23 (NLT) “Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.’”

Did you get that? Jesus said that if we are to follow him, we must do as the disciples did. We must abandon things. 

What specifically must we abandon? Self! To follow Jesus, we must regularly say ‘no’ to anything that inhibits, in any way, a desire to follow and glorify Jesus.

We may be tempted to fall short of this action. We might feel as if doing so would rob us of happiness. Yet, the irony is that as we deny ourselves in order to follow Jesus, we (genuine Christians) find even greater joy. It doesn’t mean that life will be easier. It simply means that we will be living a life of eternal significance and developing greater fellowship with the God who loves us and who we were made to enjoy.

Someone who regularly denies themselves, submits to Christ’s authority, and follows Him, realizes that there is incredible joy in doing so. 

If you are someone who has never taken this leap of faith, you won’t understand the joy in the journey until you do. If you are living out this principle of self-denial to follow Jesus, you have been shaking your head in affirmation with everything I have just said.

So, let’s take Jesus as His Word. Let’s do what He says. And let’s discover the joy and sense of adventure that comes when we do.

Luke 9:23 (NLT) “Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.’”

Luke 5:11 (NLT): “And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.”


Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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