Monday, November 26, 2012

Carrying the Cross...

In Luke's gospel, Jesus tells His disciples that to come along with Him, means that you will have to bear a cross. He puts it this way (Luke 9:23-25)...

"If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself?"

To "come with Jesus" means to literally follow Him, no matter what the course, what the destination. And the "coming with" Jesus is described as worth everything, even to the point of losing oneself for the sake of Christ and His purpose.

Through the years as our family lived and worked overseas, many well-intentioned people in churches in the USA would say things like, "Well, you'll be safe over there because you're in God's will." While I appreciate the thought, I would have to disagree.

Simply stated, there is nothing safe about following Jesus. On the contrary, as I read my Bible, our safety should be the least of our focuses in following Christ. We should seek to be obedient and faithful regardless of where He leads. And where He leads, there is always a cross.

Later in the gospel of Luke, there is a story of fellow who came into Jerusalem, probably with his family, to celebrate the Passover. His name was Simon. He was from Cyrene and was just coming in from the country for a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. As he entered the city, he was grabbed by Roman soldiers and forced to carry a heavy burden - a cross - for a state criminal that was being led to his death. He was overwhelmed, confused and wondered as he carried the burden, looking from face to face and seeing many people jeering while some were mourning and weeping. He was forced to walk behind the person to be crucified and perhaps had the chance to hear who it was....Jesus.

Simon possibly didn't know the honor that was being afforded him that day: to carry the cross of Jesus in the footsteps of the Savior. He probably would not have chosen that assignment if given a choice. But there he was, carrying the cross for the Savior of the world who was being led to the slaughter like an innocent lamb.

The call to follow Jesus is a call first and foremost to take up our crosses daily - whatever they be and wherever they lead - and follow Him. 

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