If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. Luke 9:23
Where is our cross? Did we drop it? Did we ever take it up?
Jesus’ fans often speak of the “cross they bear” referring to a burden in life such as a strained relationship, thankless job, physical illness or money problems.
No one in the first century thought of a cross as a burden. Romans made convicted criminals carry their own crosses to their crucifixion. To folks in Jesus’ day the cross meant only one thing: death. Agonizing. Brutal. Humiliating.
Some were willing to follow Jesus when they thought He would be their king and free them from Rome’s oppressive rule. But when Jesus taught that He was to die at the hands of Jewish leaders (Luke 9:22) many shocked followers fell away.
Jesus assured His followers that trials would come,
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Jesus was not looking for enthusiastic observers. Jesus was looking for committed followers.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:27
Are we willing to follow Jesus if carrying our cross means . . .
- abandoning close friends?
- alienating family?
- ruining beneficial professional relationships?
- suffering devastating illness?
- losing our life?
Paul was a committed follower of Jesus. He lived out what carrying his cross daily meant. He wrote that he counted all things as loss except knowing Jesus, the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. From Philippians 3.
Are we willing to share in the fellowship of His sufferings? Are we willing to suffer loss and experience humiliation, loneliness, alienation, rejection, pain? All for the cause of Christ?
Those are crosses to bear. And those who dare to bear them are authentic followers Jesus seeks.
a commentary on gotQuestions?.org was an inspiration for this blog post.