Bear Your Cross

KEY VERSE: “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” —Mark 8:34

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Mark 9:33-37; 10:35-45

CROSS-BEARING signifies more than enduring unpleasant experiences. For one to take up his cross and follow Jesus signifies his willingness to suffer and to die with the Master. Those condemned to death under the Roman law carried their own crosses to the place of crucifixion. For one to carry a cross, therefore, meant that he was on his way to death, and this is the symbolic meaning of Christian cross-bearing. As Jesus’ disciples, we suffer and die with him.

Our Lord laid down the terms of discipleship in no uncertain manner. He who putteth his hand to the plough and turneth back is not fit for the kingdom. Our way is a matter of cross-bearing until we have finished our course in death.—Matt. 10:37,38; 16:24,25

When Jesus invited those who believed on him to become his followers, he made it plain that it would be required of them to deny themselves. Jesus explained that those who did not love him even more than they loved the members of their own families were not worthy of him. These terms of discipleship laid down by the Master are very exacting. They are not the terms upon which mankind in general will eventually receive life through Christ, but are the conditions upon which, at the present time, one can be a true follower of Jesus.

Self-denial as taught by Jesus is not merely the giving up of certain good things to eat, or the foregoing of other pleasures of life. Rather, it is the denial of self—a dedication to the Lord that is complete and wholehearted. It is the giving up completely of one’s own will and ways, and accepting the will of the Lord as the rule of life. It means a complete change of outlook in life, a transforming of the mind to conform to the will of God.

If all things within us and around us were in complete harmony with the Lord, the doing of his will would not be a cross. But doing our Father’s will against all the oppositions of the world, the flesh, and the adversary, is indeed a cross. In our Lord’s case, this doing of God’s will brought to him envy, hatred, malice, abuse, persecution, crucifixion, death.

We are called upon to take up the cross daily—not to take it up one day and put it down the next. (Luke 9:23) Since the cross is a symbol of death, carrying our cross involves the death of the human will; being dead to self but alive to the risen Lord, Jesus Christ. It means maintaining our willingness to stand firmly for the Lord, and for the truth, and for every principle of righteousness, meekly, humbly, yet firmly: letting our light shine, speaking the truth in love, thus doing our Father’s will no matter what the cost may be.

Paul states that “they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh.” (Gal. 5:24) And Romans 6:6 declares that we are “crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” In the context of this verse Paul explains that Christ died unto sin and that we should likewise reckon ourselves “to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Thus it is made plain that we are dead unto sin in the same sense that Jesus was dead unto sin. Jesus did not possess sinful flesh. He was a perfect human, and he died unto sin when he gave up his human life as a sacrifice for sin. Through the merit of Christ our imperfect flesh is made acceptable to God as a sacrifice, so we can, as Paul explains, reckon ourselves to be dead to sin even as Jesus was.

In other words, we, like Jesus, are laying down our lives in sacrifice as a part of God’s plan to destroy the great body of sin throughout the earth, and to restore fallen and dying humanity to life and at-one-ment with the Creator. This is our calling. This is what is implied in being crucified with Christ.

The life of sacrifice in the Christian cause has its compensations of peace and joy in the Lord which result from the assurance of having divine approval. This is a peace and joy which is based upon the knowledge that our loving Heavenly Father knows what is best for us, and causes all things to work together for our good.

There are also future compensations for those who faithfully lay down their lives walking in the footsteps of Jesus. The promise to these is that if they faithfully suffer and die with Jesus they will live and reign with him.

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |