Bearing Your Cross Is Not Easy!
Consider the OldRugged Cross
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.
It is a wise thing for me to exercise such discipleship as ‘taking up my cross’ each day. I am the creation of my past. My daily actions are the products of my past precepts practiced out. My future is determined by the sum of this past and what I live out today. Carrying my cross daily is more than good habit; it is muscle building to the carrying of the Christian burden for the marathon of life. We are in the midst of a great Christmas season of festivities and, for many, a carousing of all sorts. Today I read about one merchant who sells jewelry. His advertising sign reads, “Cheap crosses for sale!” I ask you is that what you want for your witness of discipleship?
These words of Jesus are not meant to be easy or cheap. Christ’s Cross is never cheap; neither should mine or yours be. Our crosses are daily, manly, costly, courageous, exemplary, and very heavy. Only the strong in Spirit can bear it. Many a lazy and greedy have set their shoulders under it only to collapse beneath its weight. This moral collapse is the sad testimony and is the direct result of those unwilling to deny themselves. The combined weight of self will and the cross is too much for me. Only when I stoop down and bow my will to Jesus’ LORDSHIP do I receive the divine strength to rise in the victory of carrying the cross given me. Only when I do this daily can I attain to discipleship. When I desire Him above ‘things’, I receive Him; and only when I desire His Cross, can I receive my cross. Look at this Scripture text closely:
- If anyone desires to come after Me …. My desire for Jesus as LORD
- let him deny himself … My denial of selfishness for Jesus as LORD
- and take up his cross … My determination to serve Jesus as LORD
- and follow Me… My direction to follow Jesus as LORD.
When I read these words, I realize a sober and somber truth: If I am never willing to deny myself, I can never give evidence to being one of Christ’s. How is it possible for me witness to others of goodness, it there is no demonstrative goodness in my life? Alas, most everyone wants to go to heaven, but few want to climb Jacob’s ladder to get there. I believe each daily rung is a cross, and I believe the whole is nothing less than the very Cross of Christ. Only heaven’s ladder can reach the threshold of heaven; it is The Old Rugged Cross.
Carrying my cross is neither easy nor cheap. It costs me time, money and effort. Oftentimes I am sad and grieved. Occasionally, I feel my cross is heavier than that of any of my friends. I count my woes, I pout my aches, I curse my fate, and I begin to stumble under its weight. It is then I return to these words and think of Christ’s Cross. When I arrive at the foot of His Cross, my burden lightens and my yoke eases. The Cross speaks of crucifixion. My friends, who do not know Jesus as Savior, must see His Divine love through the crucifixion. Jesus carried the Cross for them. I realize that the only way the world can see this crucified Christ is for me to become crucified with Christ. This means I must carry my cross every day. Through me they see Jesus.
“Where was God, when my wife died?” one man asked. I answer, “The same place He was when His Son was crucified.” He could have summoned angels, or lightning’s, or earthquakes to stop both but He did not. Divine love and wisdom are married to free choice and random acts to make for a confusing world. Through it all I trust Him! I do not understand it, but I know in the end it will reveal His love for me.
John 15:13 No one has greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (MKJV Bible)
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (MKJV Bible)
The Cross and The Crown of Jesus Are Married!
Finally, I remind you that the cross is not divorced from the crown. Both are at the same place in history. The crown of thorns is not by chance at Golgotha; it also is at the Cross. When Christ rose, the Cross became our symbol of discipleship, and the crown our symbol of victory. If I willingly bear my cross, I can gloriously wear His crown.
2nd Timothy 4:8 Now there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that Day; and not to me only, but also to all those who love His appearing. (KJV Bible)