The Bible list many things that are asked of the believer, either in the representative narratives like Abraham or Moses and in the form of direct requests. None it seems to me is so misunderstood or often misdirected as the following, “Take up your cross and follow Me.” The passage is found in Luke 9:23.
The context of the passage adds to the average reader’s concern. Jesus has just explained that he is going to be killed and raised again on the third day. (vs 22) Then the full quote, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.” (vs 23) I have a friend who pastored a church in a medium sized California city. The church was on a busy street and had been in that place for many decades. Eventually a local man took this passage as literally as possible and began carrying a cross around town. At times he would visit my friends church carrying it back and forth in front of the church on Sabbath morning.
That doesn’t happen very often. But many of us are concerned about the image of carrying a cross. Let me start by saying this is not literal. It can’t be. The disciples of Jesus did not all carry crosses. Though most of them ended life as martyrs, that was not even true for all of them. So, what is Jesus talking about?
As he explains it, the cross bearing is talking first about priorities. “What benefit is it to a person if the gain the whole world and lose their eternal life?” So the question, “Iis Jesus the number one priority in your life?”
This suddenly breaks through the walls into our time and becomes central to our lives. All of us know the answer to this question. So, the first act of cross bearing is to be able to say “yes” to that question.
The key process in this concept is “following”. The question is, “Am I following Him?” If we are first asking about priorities, then following involves the way I prioritize my day. Days become weeks, become years and become lives. So, the programmatic outcome is something like our spiritual rhythms of Bible study, prayer, worship and Sabbath rest.
That paragraph probably took a bit of fear out of “cross bearing”. But let’s look at what it was for Jesus. For Him it was absolutely literal. He would physically carry a cross to His death. And this was the call of God for Him. This was the ministry that Jesus would perform for the salvation of men.
If you want to understand the ultimate image of cross bearing for you it is serving God in the manner in which He has called, you for the salvation of men. It will be all the things that scare you. It will be humbling! It will cause total dependence on God! It will break your heart!
But there is not greater purpose for your life and mine than to serve our fellow man and point them to Jesus. Come be a part of meeting people where they are and helping them find salvation. It will make your days!