MARK 8:34-38: “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (NKJV)
OBSERVATION: What is my cross? Have you ever heard the expression. – “Well, I guess that is just the cross I have to bear.”? Usually, when this is said, it refers to some situation, irritation, or person that we have to put up with. And then comes the false comfort when someone tells us – “Well, everyone has his cross to bear!”
Is this what Jesus was talking about? Is the cross He calls us to take up a call to simply eek out a meager existence in the midst of an unchangeable situation? I think the first thing we have to ask ourselves is – “What is a cross?” Unlike today, the cross was not a piece of jewelry you wore around your neck, or a piece of artwork you hung on your wall. No – the cross was a means of execution and death. In fact, the cross to a Jew, was the sign of a curse, and the worst possible way someone could die. So in light of that, what was Jesus talking about?
It is impossible to understand the call to the cross without understanding the call to life. The entire context of Jesus’ words is life. If we miss that, if we focus on the words deny, cross, and lose, we will never understand the cross. We must always remember Jesus’ words found in John 10:10,
- “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (NKJV)
The enemy of our souls wants to steal, to kill, and to destroy. Jesus always wants to give us life, and life more abundantly. However, we must understand the true source of life. It is not in what we possess – it is in who we know. True life is found only in Jesus!
This is where the cross comes into focus. There is a struggle that takes place in our pursuit of life. The world, the flesh, and the devil, all try to convince us that life is found in our position, our possessions, and our pleasure. The reality is that all of these will ultimately lead us away from God and toward spiritual death. So, we have a choice. We can embrace the call to die to the things that try to pull us away from God, and live – or – embrace the things of this life and find ourselves separated from God, and die.
This is the call to pick up our cross!
It is not to simply put up with something, it is the call to give up something. When I give up sin, I receive life. When I give up worry, I receive peace. When I give up selfishness, I receive generosity. When I give up a preoccupation with things, I receive God’s presence. Death always precedes life. Jesus had to die on the cross to defeat both sin and death so that we could have eternal life. We need to daily come to the cross so that we can die to the things that try to choke the Word of God, keep us from our intimacy with God, and cause us to focus on ourselves rather than others.
We we deny, lose, and die – WE LIVE!
Lord, help me to take up my cross today and follow You! May I boldly proclaim Your truth to all. May I humbly display Your love to all. Grant me the grace to walk in the abundant provision of life You provide through Your Cross!
In Jesus Name!