Thursday, February 18, 2021
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24
Your “cross” is God's will for you, regardless of the cost. Taking up your cross is a choice; it is not beyond your control. You may have health problems or a rebellious child or financial pressures, but do not mistake these as your “cross to bear.” Neither circumstances you face nor consequences of your own actions are your cross. Your cross will be to voluntarily participate in Christ's sufferings as He carries out His redemptive purposes (Phil. 3:10). Paul said he rejoiced in his sufferings because he knew that by them he was able to participate in the suffering required to bring others into Christian maturity (Col. 1:24). We tend to want to go immediately from “denying ourselves” to “following Jesus.” But you can never follow Jesus unless you have first taken up your cross. There are aspects of God's redemptive work that can be accomplished only through suffering. Just as Christ had to suffer in order to bring salvation, there will be hardships you may have to endure in order for God to bring salvation to those around you. Jesus did not talk with His disciples about the cross until they had come to know He was the Christ (Matt. 16:21). You will never be able to endure the suffering of the cross unless you have first been convinced that Jesus is the Christ. Once you have settled your relationship with Christ, He will introduce you to your cross. There is no Christianity without a cross. If you are waiting for a relationship with God that never requires suffering or inconvenience, then you cannot use Christ as your model. God's will for you involves a cross. First, take up your cross; then you can follow Him. - Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day
There's an interesting set of inferences in the story leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. After being beaten and abused by the Jewish leaders and the guards, He is to bear His cross on His way to where He was to be crucified. Yet a passerby, Simon, was pressed into service to help. To me this is as significant a person as the woman who broke the alabaster perfume to prepare Jesus for His burial. Jesus wanted him to be remembered.
To take up your cross, for Simon to take up Jesus's cross with Him, means letting go of everything in your world to go where you don't think you want to go.
Many fear what God might want them to do or to give up. They fear loss. They fear what God might ask of them. Fear, is a violin of choice to Satan. He plays it well in trying to capture the minds of believers and unbelievers alike. Charlie Daniels said in his famous song that it was a fiddle, but I believe it's more of a violin. It's meant to get into places of anyone's life in order to cause a reaction not an action. People react to fear before they ever act because of it.
We have a cross to bear, to take up. The interesting overview of the Disciples is that they were taught to do without a great many things that those they visited and spoke to thought were essential things.
We live in a culture that is about possessions. About status. About reputation. About self.
To be pressed into service to bear the cross of Christ cost Simon all of that until he was done. Family and friends saw him. His boss probably saw him. He was memorialized in the Scriptures. You have no possessions to speak of when it's taking all of you to bear a cross. Likely this part was the tall beam part. They had already afixed the cross beam to Jesus.
Letting go of self was what following Christ meant to the Disciples for 3 1/2 years. They only had what they carried with them. Their focus was on Jesus only.
If you wrote down, hour by hour, of even one of your days, in detail, how much of it would say "with Jesus"? "Serving". "Reading my Bible". How much of your life is in with bearing your cross?
Suffering is part of cross bearing. It certainly was no easy task for Simon. He had to let go of everything to hold onto what was given to him.
Consider well that quite often peace and comfort might not always be in your life because of taking up your cross. We who are believers aren't here to live it up. We aren't here to have great wealth or prosperity. We are here to serve where we do God the most good for the Kingdom...at HIS direction not ours. As someone once said we don't come to God with a grand list of our talents and abilities for Him to choose from. We come for the whatever. Whatever He wants we are to do. Trusting Him through it all.
Simon has been remembered for over 2,000 years. In Heaven He is remembered before Jesus.
Look at your life today and see if you have been bearing your cross or have been trying to avoid doing so. You really are doing only one or the other.