Sunday, September 5, 2010

Take up your cross

25Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'
31"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:25-33)

Jesus says, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” This also must have shocked the great crowds. After all, unlike us, many of them may have witnessed what Jesus here described: a condemned criminal bearing his own cross through the streets of a town out to the place of crucifixion. Only the most vile felons were had to carry their crosses. Why on earth would Jesus say that they too had to do this?
But of course, Jesus didn’t mean that each of them must carry a literal cross to a literal crucifixion. Here the word “cross” takes on a new meaning. It means “suffering.” To “bear one’s own cross” means to be willing to suffer for the sake of Jesus.
For many who followed Jesus, they sensed that a new age was dawning. The kingdom of God was at hand. But they wrongly understood that to mean that victory, peace, and prosperity would be theirs. Some new Christians make the same mistake today.
Here Jesus sets them straight. He is saying, “You do not understand. The life of a disciple is a life of suffering. It will be difficult. And if you are not prepared for this you will fall away. You will be persecuted because of me, and suffer loss because of me (See Luke 8:13; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 1 Thessalonians 3:3-5; 2 Timothy 3:12). At that point you will have a choice. You can remain faithful to me or you can be unfaithful to make the cross go away. You can shut up rather than openly share your faith, be silent rather than speak of Jesus, go along with the crowd, rather than obey Jesus. You can compromise the truth instead of standing up for the truth of God’s Word. To do any of these things, to compromise or become silent or go along with the crowd rather than confess, speak, and live the life Christ has called us to, is to drop the cross instead up carrying it. But if you refuse to carry the cross of suffering you cannot be my disciple.”
The wonderful consequence of deciding to become a follower of Jesus is that we can rest assured that Jesus will always be with us and will help us to carry our cross no matter how heavy.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

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