‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’ Luke 9:23 NIV
In AD 44, King Herod Agrippa ordered James the Greater to be killed with a sword. He was the first of the apostles to be martyred. Reportedly, Luke was hanged from an olive tree in Greece. Doubting Thomas was burned in India. Philip was crucified and preached from the cross with his dying breath. Matthew was stabbed in the back in Ethiopia. Bartholomew was flogged to death in Armenia. James the Just was thrown off the south-east pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem, then clubbed to death by a mob. Simon the Zealot was crucified by the governor of Syria in AD 74. Judas Thaddaeus was beaten to death with sticks in Mesopotamia. Matthias, who replaced Judas Iscariot, was stoned and beheaded. Peter was crucified upside down at his own request. When John the Beloved survived being put in a cauldron of boiling water, Emperor Diocletian exiled him to the island of Patmos. Now you will probably not be called to die physically for Christ—but to be His disciple you must die to yourself. Jesus said, ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.’ (Luke 9:23–24 NIV) If you want to find yourself, you must be willing to lose yourself in the cause of Christ. If you want to come alive in the fullest sense, you must be willing to die to all forms of self-centredness and live for Christ.