Friday, April 18, 2014

The Way of the Cross

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  ~Luke 9:23
And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. ~Luke 23:26

When Pastor called on us to read through the crucifixion account in the Gospel of Luke this week I could not help but spend time thinking on this verse. Pastor’s message this last Sunday was to focus our attention not only on the events of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and execution, but what all of that means for those who call themselves disciples of Christ. If we are a church that claims to follow Jesus, then there are some guiding principles for what that looks like.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” ~Luke 9:23

Jesus had just told the twelve disciples He was going to Jerusalem to be taken into custody by the Jewish leaders, killed, and then rise three days later. He then went on to explain what that means for those who would follow Him. Often times this passage is misunderstood and people think Jesus is calling Christians to suffer through difficulties and trials that come with life. It is true that this life does bring suffering in many forms and we can expect to receive our fair share of it, but that is not what Jesus has in mind here. To follow Jesus means to die to yourself and to submit your will and desires to those of God. The Apostle Paul said it like this...

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ~Galatians 2:20

Paul is telling us how he has picked up his cross and follows Jesus. In a similar sense that Jesus submitted Himself to the will of the Father and went to Jerusalem to be crucified, Paul has submitted himself to die with Christ. Paul now has a union and relationship with Jesus that is so intimate, he daily dies to the Law as a way of justification, he daily dies to his passions and desires for the things of the world, and he dies daily to the pride and self-autonomy of his own life. All of these things have lost their influence over him and he now lives a life governed and dictated by the Son of God.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. ~John 15:5,6

There is to be such a connection to and union with Jesus for those who follow Him that whatever affected Him, affects them as well. May we follow Jesus whatever may come, looking to Him the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:1,2

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate the clarity of this post. If "we all have our cross to bear", it's His.