“...Whosoever will come
after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
living today fully understand what Jesus is saying? We’ve sanitized the
cross to the point that it has now
taken on a revered look. The cross is now a nice clean and shinny symbol,
but symbol of what? In the days when Jesus told all who were sitting around
Him, including His disciples, they needed to pick up their crosses, He was
telling them they might well be put to death just as He would soon die on
that cross if they were truly going to follow Him. The cross was a harsh
instrument of death; it had no
The Romans weren’t the ones who
invented the torture of the cross, but they did perfect it. All those living in
the times when the cross was used as a source of execution understood the
severity of the inhumane torture inflicted upon the cross. No one in those days
wanted to be reminded of what the cross represented.
Today jewelry stores are full of
silver and gold crosses displayed in glass cases, their beauty enhanced with
added lighting showing their brilliance, some studded with rubies and diamonds.
In Jesus’ day the cross was despised, it was feared, it resulted in a most
horrible and agonizing death. If you hang one around your
neck or from your ears it becomes a beautiful and adored piece of flattery, but
it was a far different symbol in the days of our Saviors death.
Christian must be a Crucian, and do somewhat more than those monks that made
themselves wooden crosses, and carried them on their back continually, making
all the world laugh at them.”
is speaking about each individual picking up their very own cross and following
Him down that dusty, dirty road of persecution and tribulation. That’s a road
most Christians actually shun. In today’s vernacular Jesus is saying the road
you will travel, if you are going to follow Him, is likened to the hall leading to the execution chamber.
Many Christians all across this globe
are being put to death because they’ve picked up their crosses and never put
them down. Here in
America we still enjoy the freedom to
worship openly, although Christianity in this nation is being attacked from all
sides. There will come a time when Christianity will be of little or no
significance in this country. You don’t believe it? Stay silent and wait and
Those who follow Jesus are denying
their humanistic instincts and by picking up their crosses, they know they must
completely submit to Jesus’ will. When we deny our self and surrender to Jesus
we resolve to obey Him. Obeying Jesus has never been a very self promoting idea,
and too many people today are of the mindset of “it’s all about me”. Instead, we
should be doing everything according to what Jesus has commanded and everything
we do should point to Him. Let God be glorified in all we do and say.
he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be
rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed,
and after three days rise again.”
Jesus went on to say,
“Take up your cross and follow me”;of
course Jesus knew exactly what He was telling his listeners. Did they fully
grasp the severity of what Jesus expected of them? If they understood Jesus was
to suffer many things, even be killed, then they most certainly would have known
their fate could be the same as His. Isn’t He also telling us (this current
generation of believers) that as we take up our crosses we too will most surely
experience persecution? I say it is.
“...and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
We can take comfort
in Jesus’ final words from the Gospel of Matthew.
Those who Jesus spoke with were to understand that
by following Him they would be putting themselves in harm’s way. It was a
certainty that they had to resolve in their own minds before stepping out to
follow Him. There was a sacrifice to be made in order to
follow Jesus. Many turned away and went back home unable to make the commitment
to follow Him as the cost was too great. How will those of us who profess to
follow Jesus Christ today contend with such persecutions? You best get prepared
folks, its coming.
There is only one way,one
path that will allow us to obtain true life,and
that is by dying to this earthly life. Jesus said
“...whosoever shall lose his life for my sake
and the gospel's, the same shall save it.”
We can’t gain resurrection life without dying first. Many will not
give up the riches and pleasures of this life, as fleeting as they are, to even
think about following Jesus. The pull of a soft, exciting, unencumbered,
materialistic, self-made lifestyle is so great that one may actually gain the
whole world but lose their soul in the process.
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall
gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
No pain, no gain. All who follow Jesus, and I mean truly follow Him, will
experience pain/persecution. If you’re born again, and sitting on the sidelines
just enjoying life without a care for the lost or with what’s happening around
you, then relax persecution probably won’t come your way.
People who live according to Jesus’ teachings and
actually take up their cross have a much easier time with the actions and
circumstances that confront them even though the days be filled with evil. Those
who are at peace with their salvation and who revel in their security find
contentment easily obtainable. Praise God! These days we live in can be brutal
and seemingly hopeless at times. But take heart
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for
the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day
is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:34.
When our life’s pursuit is the perfect mold which
is Jesus Christ, our minds become transformed. We will never reach
perfection–the perfection of Christ–while we live in the flesh. But by striving
for that perfection and adhering to God’s will–as we become others centered–we
can become more content and much closer to understanding who God is and what His
plan is for our lives. In the prayer Jesus taught His disciples, He’s teaching
all of us to pray for the following, “...Thy
will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
God’s will is for us to take up our cross and follow Him; to do His
will while we are able no matter what roadblocks are placed in our path.
Picking up that cross every day of our lives means
we will be associating ourselves with Jesus of Nazareth. While living here on
earth, Jesus was despised and hated by many and finally put to death for His
crime of proclaiming to be equal to God. He was
crucified for loving His followers and even for loving those who hated Him.
Those who hated Him then are no different than those who hate Him today, and
that same hatred for Jesus is put upon all who follow Him.
If you and I will not flinch, if we will remain
true to our Savior and not be ashamed of Him, then when He returns in His glory
we shall share in that glory. But if we live according to the world and the
world sees us as being of no significant difference then aren’t we showing the
world that we are ashamed of Jesus the Christ? Shouldn’t we then suffer the
consequences of that professed shame? Jesus said “For
whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation,
of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His
Father with the holy angels,” Mark
8:38 Aren’t we living in one of the most adulterous and sinful
generations of all time? Shouldn’t we believers, having taken up our crosses,
long to hear the words “Well done, thou good
and faithful servant: ... enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
The cross is nothing to be ashamed of; it’s in the
Christian’s heart as a symbol of death’s defeat. Jesus defeated death by dying
on that cross. But when Jesus speaks of picking up our cross and following Him
He isn’t telling us to go down to our local jewelry store and purchase a
necklace with a gold or silver cross hung from it. Nor is He admonishing us to
mark up our bodies with a tattoo of a cross. When we finally make up our mind to
follow Jesus in what He’s accomplished regarding our salvation we must decide
once and for all that He reigns and it’s His will that will be done from that
point on. And that we will not shy away from our assigned tasks. That’s taking
up your cross.
I personally have no problem with folks purchasing
crosses as an affirmation of who they are and whom it
is they follow. Just remember, Jesus wants our hearts to reflect Him not
a piece of jewelry, that isn’t picking up ones cross.
Nowhere in the scriptures are Christians told that
once we take up that cross life is going to be easy. There is a sinister element
that is very prevalent on the scene today just as it has been for all the centuries
following Jesus’ ascension. Believers in the one true God, Jesus Christ, will
have evil accusations hurled at them as if they were a scourge on the land,
history proves that.
There are many accusations promoted through the
major media and whether they be true or false are always promoted for the sole
purpose of tearing down the Christian faith. When we hear news pundits referring
to Christians as terrorists or classifying us in any number of other disparaging
ways, then it’s time to rejoice. True cross bearers can take solace in the very
fact that these folks refer to the Christian faith as being responsible for all
the past and future problems in the world. Why? Well because that proves Jesus’
words “If the world hate you, ye know that
it hated me before it hated you,”
John 15:18. If the
world hates you because they hate Jesus Christ, then you are in excellent
company, and you’ve done what Jesus told you to do, you’ve taken up your cross
and followed Him. On the other hand if the world loves you, you must be of the
world and not of Christ. Where’s your cross?
Have you ever noticed that when someone wants to
take a swipe at Christianity they consistently bring up the crusades or a
Catholic Priest who’s molested someone, perhaps even a leading
evangelical that turned to homosexuality? No true born again cross bearer would
have associated themselves with those who were butchering people in
Christ’s name, and as for the others I mentioned, isn’t it possible that they
never really understood what it meant to daily take up ones cross. Jesus said
many would come in His name to deceive and He was right. There are plenty of
folks who masquerade as Christians for their own
personal gain. This has been the case since Jesus’ ascension.
Let’s be clear on the subject of the cross. We,
that is, those who are actually taking up their crosses, are going to be
persecuted. If you’ve done as Jesus willed you to do and you’ve taken up your
cross daily, there is no doubt that you will feel the heat of hate or some other
persecution. Look around at the evil that is already coming down on the brethrenand you
must admit that the Christian life you’ve embarked on is not always going to be
a bed of roses.
Taking up one’s cross may very well become much
more intense and dangerous here in America, just like it is in many
other parts of the world. It will become more and more difficult to unabashedly
remain a Christian in these last days, especially as we witness Christ-haters
promoting every evil imaginable, trying to indoctrinate us with their sick
lifestyles, and basically force feeding their wicked agendas upon every cross
The silver lining to taking up your cross is that
you will spend eternity in glorious Heaven with our awesome God. If we must
endure persecution to obtain that end, so be it.
God bless you all,
All scriptures are from the