What does it mean to take up your cross and follow me?
The cross is a universal language everyone can understand.
The cross is a reminder of a significant act that took place over two thousand years ago that has changed the course of history.
In the ancient roman empire, the cross, weighing approximately 300 lbs was made out of wood and was the means to execute the crucifixion of a criminal.
The condemned was tied or nailed to the cross and was left to die a slow, painful, humiliating, gruesome death.
It also served as a deterrent to those who witnessed such an inhumane, horrific process.
In addition, over the years we’ve seen portraits of the crucifixion with the victim’s “privates” to be covered; but it was a custom for the criminal to be killed naked.
We should then ask, why is the cross such an important symbol in Christianity?…. because it was anything less than desirable
The truth is Jesus took our place.
- The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. Romans 6:23
Because of our sinful nature we deserved to be put to death; that is the payment for sin. However, God had a better plan in mind.
- But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption to sonship Galatians 4:4
Those that believe in Jesus and have committed to serving Him faithfully have a duty and go through a process to become more like Christ.
- If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24
Ways to take up your cross
Resistance to Sin
Jesus put sin to death as He was crucified on Calvary’s cross.
This means that while sin still exists, the Christian has the power through the blood of Jesus to resist the temptations that abounds in this world.
Jesus puts a life of denial this way:
- Anyone who wants to be my follower must love me far more than he does his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters—yes, more than his own life—otherwise he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26-27
This is a call to resist anything or anyone that opposes the will of God for your life even if it is your family.
It’s a call to holiness, righteousness and full devotion to our Lord.
Obedience To God
The cross represents Jesus’ submission to his father.
- He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:8
He was willing to leave the splendor of heaven to bear a gruesome death because that’s the plan His father had in mind to redeem this lost world.
Your love for God is displayed when you are willing to lay your desires aside and place His will above your own.
Carrying Your Cross
It would be nice to appeal to your emotions and tell you that the Christian walk is all glitz and glam.
Don’t get me wrong there are blessings to be received, purposes to be revealed and there’s an opportunity to experience God’s favor in an unimaginable way.
BUT the Christian’s life is also marked by anguish and suffering.
To be like Jesus we have to take up our cross and follow HIM or we are not worthy of Him…. Period
Jesus was lied about, ridiculed, beaten for no reason, and ultimately crucified for the truth that He is the Son of the living God.
Don’t be alarmed when you’re not promoted because of your integrity or you’re lied about because you believe in truth or you’re persecuted because you don’t blend into the lifestyle of those around you.
Standing with Jesus makes the “world” uncomfortable and Jesus experienced this with the Pharisees and Sadducees.
He called out their errors and selfish ways which brought a lot of discomfort which ultimately led to his death.
Many people have gone homeless for their beliefs; even today many are still being martyred for their faith.
Many suffer hunger, excluded from their families yet they are stronger than ever because their faith in Jesus is eternal.
- May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14
It’s making that clear separation from the sinful practices and customs of this world we live in.
What Does The Cross Mean?
Love In Action
The cross is the ultimate expression of love.
If you’re void of true love in your life or have suffered many broken relationships, the cross is a reminder of how much He loves you.
- For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
If you were the only person that existed, Jesus would still have died.
Because of the cross, we can receive countless forgiveness as we make our mistakes daily.
- If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
You no longer have to walk around with the burden and guilt of sin because that debt has already been paid in full, you’re free.
Grace is favor we don’t deserve.
Sin makes us undeserving of so many things but the cross is the symbol of grace.
- For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
It’s the gift that keeps on giving. It’s the place we can go to get our strength, encouragement, confidence, etc.
You can leave all your pain there, you can cry there but you can also get up.
It’s a timely reminder that you’ll never have to walk this path alone.