INCARNATE – TAKE UP HIS CROSS

The cross holds much meaning for people today. Whether is it worn on chain, displayed prominently on a hill beside the road, hung on a place of worship, eulogized in sermon because of its spiritual significance, or just revered in thought or song, it means many different things to people today.  But to the audience of Jesus in Luke 14:27 it meant none of those things, nor held any of those significances. This is true for a simple reason….

At the time Jesus urged the multitudes following Him to become true disciples through the admonition to “take up his cross and follow Me,” the cross had NONE of the spiritual significance the world attaches to it today.  It couldn’t mean any of those spiritual things then because Jesus hadn’t yet given “the cross” any spiritual significance.  Then a cross meant only one thing: horribly humiliating and excruciatingly painful death.  There wasn’t any spiritual significance to it.  There wasn’t any deep or metaphorical meaning.  It didn’t even imply anything sacrificial or eternal to the hearers. Jesus’ audience didn’t know He was going to be sacrificed, let alone that it would be on a Roman crucifix.  They had no spiritual concept of what Paul would later call being “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20) or, “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).  To them, a cross just meant death. Think about a couple salient points….

  • The cross to be carried in true discipleship does not belong to Jesus, but the disciple- “carry his own cross,” Luke 14:27.You nor I nor anyone else could bear Jesus’ cross.And even if we tried…
  • My cross, or yours, doesn’t and couldn’t have the same spiritual significance that Jesus’ did and does.  Because of sin, I (and you) deserve to die- even if on a cross.  Jesus didn’t.  His cross meant so much more.  And yet….
  • Each would-be disciple must be willing to take up and carry “his own cross.”  This doesn’t mean the struggles or hardships of life to which we often refer with such language.“It’s just his cross to bear,” or (usually jokingly), “He is just her cross to bear” of a wife’s burden of a difficult husband or a troublesome son. It does mean that…
  • Every true disciple of Jesus must be willing to die for Him; that we would prefer, and would chose, to die rather than give Him up and turn back to self, Satan, and sin.Peter and the other eleven disciples said as much, and surely meant it, in Matthew 26:35.But when push came to shove (somewhat literally) later that night, “Then all the disciples left Him and fled,” v.56. And yet, after years of faithful service, all of them died for and in and faithful to Him. It also means that…
  • Cross carrying is a daily endeavor.All that we learned about discipleship and cross-bearing must be an everyday commitment.Jesus said so- not in Luke 14:27, but in Luke 9:23“…take up his cross daily…”. Again, think about what is being said.How different would our days be if, instead of saying a morning prayer about what all we wanted God to help us with or do for us today, we started by affirming our willingness (and really meaning it!) to die for Him today. Just like yesterday, and just like tomorrow, if I don’t die for Him today. Wouldn’t that give us a new, better, and certainly more spiritual perspective?To really be willing to die for Him today and everyday?Finally…
  • True discipleship, and the requisite daily carrying of our own cross, is ultimately about self-denial.  Jesus said so in Luke 9:23“If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”   We can never truly follow Jesus unless we are a willing to deny ourselves.Jesus taught us this lesson by example also, “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will but Thine be done,” Luke 22:43.

So, what about it?  Are you ready to take up your cross daily to follow Him?  I hope so, because that is the cost of discipleship affixed by the Lord.  Conversely, you just tag along after Him with the crowds as long as it is convenient, doesn’t cost too much, and you get some physical blessings or benefits.  Which will it be for you? BY PHILIP STRONG

“GOD LOVES YOU AND I LOVE YOU AND THAT’S THE WAY IT’S GONNA BE!” – MIKE

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