The cross is the symbol of our death to self (see Mark 8:34 and Gal 2:20)…
Christianity is neither a religion, nor is it a social club; it is rather a way of life (where Jesus is the only Way – see John 14:6); that after having been born-again, your whole paradigm view of life and purpose in life has changed.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (MSG)
Paul speaking: “…your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit?
Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for?
The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you.
God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.”
34-37 Calling the crowd to join His disciples, He (Jesus) said, “Anyone who intends to come with Me has to let Me lead.
You’re not in the driver’s seat; I AM.
Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow Me and I’ll show you how.
Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, My way, to saving yourself, your true self.
What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you (your soul)? What could you ever trade your soul for?
38 “If any of you are embarrassed over Me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when He arrives in all the splendor of God, His Father, with an army of the holy angels.”
1 John 2:6
4-6 If someone claims, “I know Him well!” but doesn’t keep His (Jesus’) commandments, he’s obviously a liar.
His life doesn’t match his words. But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love.
This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.
So what exactly did Jesus mean when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me?”
Let’s begin with what Jesus didn’t mean.
Many people interpret the “cross” as some burden they must carry in their lives: a strained relationship, a thankless job, a physical illness.
With self-pitying and pride, they say, “That’s my cross I have to carry.”
Such an interpretation is not at all what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”
When Jesus carried His cross up Golgotha to be crucified, no one was thinking of the cross as symbolic of a burden to carry.
To a person in the first-century, the cross meant one thing and one thing only: death by the most painful and humiliating means human beings could develop.
Two thousand years later, Christians view the cross as a cherished symbol of atonement, forgiveness, grace, and love.
But in Jesus’ day, the cross represented nothing but torturous death.
Because the Romans forced convicted criminals to carry their own crosses to the place of crucifixion, bearing a cross meant carrying their own execution device while facing ridicule along the way to death.
Therefore, “Take up your cross and follow Me” means being willing to die in order to follow Jesus.
This is called “dying to self.” It’s a call to absolute surrender!
After each time Jesus commanded cross bearing, He said,
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:24-25).
Although the call is tough, the reward that Jesus offers in return is worth it.
It has to do with each of us fulfilling our God-given destiny and our experiencing the abundant Life that Jesus promised us (John 10:10), that we’re all looking for.
Wherever Jesus went, He drew crowds. Although these multitudes often followed Him as Messiah, their view of who the Messiah really was—and what He would do—was distorted.
They thought the promised Christ (Messiah – anointed one) would usher in and restore David’s kingdom. They believed He would free them from the oppressive rule of their Roman occupiers.
Even Christ’s own inner circle of disciples thought the kingdom was coming soon (Luke 19:11).
When Jesus began teaching that He was going to die at the hands of the Jewish leaders and their Gentile overlords (Luke 9:22), His popularity sank.
Many of the shocked followers rejected Him. Truly, they were not able to put to death their own ideas, plans, and desires, and exchange them for His.
Following Jesus is easy when life runs smoothly; our true commitment to Him is revealed during trials.
Jesus assured us that trials will come to His followers (John 16:33). Discipleship demands sacrifice, and Jesus never hid that cost.
In Luke 9:57-62, three people seemed willing to follow Jesus. When Jesus questioned them further, their commitment was half-hearted at best.
They failed to count the cost of following Him. None was willing to take up his cross and crucify upon it his own interests.
Therefore, Jesus appeared to dissuade them.
How different all this is from the typical Gospel presentation that we hear today!
How many people would respond to an altar call that went,
“Come follow Jesus, and you may face the loss of friends, family, reputation, career, and possibly even your life?”
The number of false converts would likely decrease!
However such a call is exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”
If you wonder if you are ready to take up your cross, consider these questions:
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing some of your closest friends?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means alienation from your family?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means the loss of your reputation?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your job?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your life?
In some places of the world, these consequences are reality. But notice the questions are phrased, “Are you willing?”
Following Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean all these things will happen to you, but are you willing to take up your cross?
If there comes a point in your life where you are faced with a choice—Jesus or the comforts of this life—which will you choose?
Commitment to Christ means taking up your cross daily, giving up your hopes, dreams, possessions, even your very life if need be for the cause of Christ.
Only if you willingly take up your cross may you be called His disciple (Luke 14:27).
The reward is worth the price. Jesus followed His call of death to self (“Take up your cross and follow Me”) with the gift of life in Christ:
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25-26).
The Apostle Paul summarized what Jesus is looking for in Romans chapter 12:
J.B. Phillips New Testament
We have seen God’s mercy and wisdom: how shall we respond?
1-2 With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him.
Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity. Amen
Fri, November 19
God At Eventide
by Two Listeners
Turn out all of your self that would rebel against My way. Know no other rule.
Check your actions and motives habitually. Those that are actuated by self-esteem or self-pity — condemn.
Discipline yourself ruthlessly rather than let self gain any ascendancy.
Your aim is to oust it, and to serve and follow Me only.
Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25
Come join the Adventure!