What is the cross you must bear?

Is the cross your backpain or your nagging spouse?
Deny yourself and pick up the cross
You are the cross you must bear!
Your self-denial and your decision to follow Jesus
What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?

Here’s a quick answer about the familiar concept of carrying a cross.

It’s all too familiar as believers talk about a heavy burden in their lives as a cross they must bear.  And so, the cross becomes anything burdensome or painful.  So, your chronic back pain is now the cross you must bear.  That dysfunctional relationship at home or school is seen as the cross you must carry.  And your unreasonable boss, your friends tell you that he is the cross you must bear.  Or your nagging wife or domineering husband is the cross you must carry. 

But, is the cross really your spouse, boss, or back pain?  Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  And when the disciples heard it, they did not think about their boss or spouse.  They, no doubt, were thinking about the horrific experience of carrying a cross themselves which would lead to their own death.

You see, carrying the cross was a long drawn out process of torture and death.  The painful experience was all about personal suffering and not getting your needs met.  You needed a break from carrying that heavy cross beam which weighed over a hundred pounds.  But that was not going to happen.  You wanted relief from the pain and suffering of being nailed.  But that was not coming.   In other words, the entire experience of carrying the cross was about the slow process of taking away everything that you needed which ultimately led to your death.

And so, Jesus compares following him to this torturous experience of carrying a cross.  He even defines it as denying yourself.  And so, the message is clear.  Following Jesus is like the painful experience of denying oneself and going through personal suffering that ultimately leads to your death.  This death could be physical but the intent here is a spiritual lesson of self-denial.  In other words, it’s about self-denial and death to your personal agenda.  It’s about putting to death your selfishness and other sinful tendencies in order to follow Jesus.

And so, the cross is not your boss or your spouse.  The cross is YOU.  It’s your own sinful desires and tendencies that keep you from being a true disciple of Jesus.

So, it really does cost a lot to follow Jesus.  Someone said that it costs nothing to believe in Jesus (because, Jesus did all the work) but it costs everything to follow Jesus.  And the ultimately price to pay is death to yourself.  It is the daily process of self-denial to follow him.  This is true discipleship.

 

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