In the last post, I started out the writing with a quotation from Mark 8: 34-35: “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.”
I commented on the “denial of self” part of the quote [“let him deny himself”] but what about the “take up his cross” portion of the quote?
At first glance, you might think that taking up one’s cross is the same thing as denial but Pastor Bevere does not think so.* He makes a good practical point: why would Jesus repeat himself unnecessarily?
That leaves us with the question, what does taking up one’s cross mean?
Well of course it does not mean experiencing actual physical crucifixion.
I think it refers to commitment. Taking up a cross is a commitment that we make to follow Jesus. Bevere turns to Galatians 2:20 to explain: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Focus on the sentence “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”
This is something that every true Christian should want to be able to say and mean. It states that we are not independent any longer. We are no longer “feeding from the tree of our evaluation of what is good and evil;” we are living our lives dependent on God and empowered by God.
It also denotes that we are experiencing a new life. “As Christ was raised from the dead by a glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” [Romans 6:4].
This is the core promise of our faith. Christ came to earth to crucify our flesh. His sacrifice gives us a chance to walk free from our natural bent toward sinning, a chance to deny the temptations of this world.
Everyone knows the pull of sin on our lives. Life on this earth pulls us one way and then another. Sin is always there to trip us up. Sometimes in my life I have likened my Christian walk to going round and round a mountain. I want to go up the mountain but my sin keeps me trapped at a lower level, unable to go to a higher level.
Jesus is that hand up to a higher level of the mountain.
When we make an honest commitment to live our lives with Christ, our love for Him becomes more important to us than the fleeting pleasures we get from sin. We can have periods of freedom from sin because we are drawing from His power and we are no longer trying to clean up our lives on our own.
I know many people who seem to have super strong amounts of willpower; their ability to get things done is phenomenal. When others get lazy, they keep working. When others get distracted, they keep forging ahead on their project. When others quit, they don’t.
But I have been in the company of what I would call very mature Christians and I have seen them also do things that are amazing. When others get lazy, they also keep working. When others get distracted, they keep forging ahead. When others quit, they don’t.
When I ask how they do what they do, they say “It is not me.”
Enough said…I know the source of their power.
John Bevere says it best: “The life we now live is by faith in His ability working in and through us. We draw from Him. What a glorious package of salvation God has provided for us!”
The Christian needs to “Take up his cross, and follow Me.”
*John Bevere from his book Good or God?