6/11/14: Take Up Your Cross
After Pilate reluctantly gave in to those who wanted Jesus crucified, we read that “He, bearing His cross, went out to… Golgotha” John 19:17 (NKJ). Jesus had to carry His own cross to His own execution. That must have been something like being required to fetch the rope for your own hanging, load the gun for your firing squad, fill the syringes for your lethal injection, or even retrieve the switch from the tree for your whipping. But what was really happening as Jesus carried His cross?
When Jesus carried His cross, He was taking it to a place where the sin of the world would be nailed to it through Him. Carrying that cross, then, showed how all our sin was being transported away from us. That cross was heavy and rugged; it wasn’t hollowed out and sanded down making it easy for Him to move. And having to haul that cross through the streets was shameful, painful, and sad, not something that anyone reveled over. The act of carrying that cross and then being nailed to it because all our sin was on Him, led to His horrendous death.
The Bible tells us that we are to do exactly what Jesus did, take up our cross. In the section entitled “Self Put to Death” in the Collins Thesaurus of the Bible, taking up one’s cross is explained by pairing the following verses together as follows:
Whoever loses his life for my sake will save it (Luke 9:24); he who loves his life loses it (John 12:25); he who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me (Matt. 10:38); whoever would come after me must take up his cross (Matt. 16:24); take up your cross (Mark 8:34); he must take up his cross daily (Luke 9:23); whoever does not take up his cross cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27); put to death the deeds of the body (Rom. 8:13); I do not consider my life as of any account (Acts 20:24).
Our cross represents the longings, characteristics, leanings, tendencies, penchants, proclivities, predispositions, desires, and deeds of our sinful nature. In Morning and Evening, a devotion written by famed preacher Charles Spurgeon, the February 23 evening selection responds to Jesus’ call in Mark 10:21 to “Take up the cross, and follow me.” It reads in part, “This night Jesus bids you submit your shoulder to his easy yoke. Do not kick at it in petulance, or trample on it in vain-glory, or fall under it in despair, or run away from it in fear, but take it up like a true follower of Jesus. Jesus was a cross-bearer; he leads the way in the path of sorrow.”
What does it mean to “take up the cross?” It means dying to everything in our lives that is not like Christ in order to follow Him. If we have to symbolically beat our bodies black and blue to keep them in line, so be it. If our feelings don’t initially line up, oh well. If old and new friends don’t understand, too bad. The one aim of our existence must be to follow Christ while carrying our cross. The good news is that He shoulders the burden with us. Our cross becomes His, and then we discover what He means when He says, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” Matthew 11:29-30 (NKJ).
We will never stop carrying our cross, but with Jesus’ help, we can manage its weight and not be crushed under it. Worship God today for being the cross-carrier.
©2014 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.
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