Day 1: Preparation
“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’” Luke 9:23 NIV
Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. It says in Matthew 26:39 NIV, Jesus asks, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Jesus knew what He was about to face, the cross and no matter what, He would do His Father’s will.
JESUS PREPARES: There are significant things that Jesus does before his arrest. Matthew 26:12 a woman with an alabaster vial (expensive perfume) enters and anoints Jesus. He tells His disciples that the oil is preparation for His burial. Then Jesus celebrates Passover and gives Holy Communion to His disciples. Matthew 26:30 then says “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Jesus begins to prays, preparing Himself for opposition. Even when Pontius Pilate pulled Jesus aside to speak to Him alone, Jesus knew His purpose. He didn't try to persuade Pilate to let Him go. Jesus was picking up His cross, He was pursuing His passion, He was pursuing us.
PURSUE THE PASSION: How do we prepare ourselves to follow our passion? Preparation is a process we go through to step into our purpose and carry our cross. But what exactly does it mean to carry our cross? Jesus had both a literal and figurative cross. The literal cross was the crucifixion itself, but the figurative cross was Jesus completing Hhis purpose, taking the sin of the world upon Himself so that each and every one of us could spend eternal life with Him, holy and blameless. You might say, “Well that’s Jesus, but how do I know how to prepare if I don’t know what my purpose is or what the cross looks like that I must carry?” So many of us are trying to find “our purpose.” We begin looking everywhere and to everyone for the answer, but truly the only one that has the answer is Jesus.WHAT WE LEARN FROM JESUS:
- We must turn to the Father first. Pray to Him and seek out His will above all else. Sometimes God will ask us to do things we might not want to do, but we must prepare ourselves to follow our calling. Just as Jesus asked for the cup to be taken away, He knew His Father’s will above all else.
- Surround yourself with accountability and prayer. Just like Jesus, who asked three of the disciples to come with Him and pray, we too must surround ourselves with accountability and prayer. We need to have a circle of believers who can help us on this journey, we cannot do it alone.
- Be prepared by being aware of the enemy’s schemes. The enemy came to Jesus at every turning point in the film mocking Him and trying to sway Him and he will do this to each one of us as well. We must do as it says in Ephesians 6:11 NIV “put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” We must read our Bible, pray, fast, and know what Christ says about us.
- What resonated with you while you were watching Jesus being condemned to death and beaten, ultimately leading him to carry his cross?
- Do you ever feel you are being blamed or accused of things you haven’t done? Share a little about what your experience and how you have worked through it.
- What are some of your steps you take in preparing to walk out your purpose and carry your cross no matter what the opposition looks like?
Pursue Preparation. There is always a “preparation” process that helps equip and prepare us for the journey, the calling on our life. Whether you are a student, athlete, artist, parent, etc. step out in faith today and do something you know will help you to better understand your calling. This always starts with making time for Jesus. Spend time with Him in prayer and listen to His desires, then be bold and pick up your cross.