Cross-Bearing

“If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

(Jesus Christ, as recorded in Luke 9:23, ESV)

The second aspect  of the Christian life that Jesus mentions in this verse is cross-bearing.  As with Jesus, the Christian’s road to glory runs through the cross.  Jesus connects denial of self with the bearing of the cross, suggesting that the cross can only be carried by those who have denied self.

The daily aspect of cross-bearing is also emphasized – it must be done every day!

Many Christians misunderstand the cross – they think of their cross as a nutty boss, an unfair teacher, or a cranky mother-in-law.  Those things are not pleasant, but they are not the cross of Christ.

The cross of Christ is the suffering and rejection we experience as a result of our dedication to Christ and his gospel.  That thought prompted me to wonder, Do I have any difficulties because of how closely I am following Christ?

The world hated and rejected Christ – if we are faithfully following Christ the same will be true for us.  Taking up the cross is a commitment that will lead to rejection and possibly death.

Self-Denial

“If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

(Jesus Christ, as recorded in Luke 9:23, ESV)

In this verse Jesus informs us of three aspects of the Christian life: self-denial, cross-bearing, and following after Christ.  The first of those is self-denial, which means refusing to make self that which controls your life.

Jesus and his cause are to be taken up as the Christian’s chief loyalty.  To follow Christ you must deny personal control of your own life.  Jesus modeled that for us in his sacrificial death.  It was God’s will that he die on the cross, and Jesus was fully committed to obeying that to which God had called him.

The attitude of Jesus can be seen in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion, “Not as I will, but as you will” (see Matthew 26:39).  That attitude of self-denial should characterize the life of every Christian.

The Cost of Discipleship

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he (Jesus) said to them,
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?
For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Jesus Christ, as recorded in Mark 8:34-38 (ESV) 

Radical Discipleship – D.L. Moody

After he became a Christian, Dwight L. Moody was fully committed to the task of evangelism and devoted his life to preaching the Gospel.  The testimony of his friends was that Moody “reduced the population of hell by one million souls.”  What a legacy and what an example of being fully devoted to Christ and his kingdom.  The example of Moody makes me wonder what my friends will say about my life of discipleship.  Is it equally apparent that I am sold out for Christ and his Kingdom?

A Man of One Thing

These words are from J.C. Ryle:

“A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit. He sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed-up in one thing — and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives — or whether he dies; whether he has health — or whether he has sickness; whether he is rich — or whether he is poor; whether he pleases man — or whether he gives offence; whether he is thought wise — or whether he is thought foolish; whether he gets blame — or whether he gets praise; whether he gets honor, or whether he gets shame — for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing — and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God’s glory.

If he is consumed in the very burning — he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn, and if consumed in burning — he has but done the work for which God appointed him. Such a one will always find a sphere for his zeal. If he cannot preach, and work, and give money — he will cry, and sigh, and pray. Yes, if he is only a pauper, on a perpetual bed of sickness — he will make the wheels of sin around him drive heavily, by continually interceding against it. If he cannot fight in the valley with Joshua — then he will do the prayer-work of Moses, Aaron, and Hur, on the hill. (Exod. 17:9-13.) If he is cut off from working himself — he will give the Lord no rest until help is raised up from another quarter, and the work is done. This is what I mean when I speak of “zeal” in religion.”