Take Up Your Cross

I just can’t handle him anymore. He’s mean, cruel, and abusive. I know God hates divorce, so I guess this is the cross I have to carry.

How many of you have heard this statement quoted at least once and maybe concerning other subjects? Many feel that carrying one’s own cross means that it is a burden for them to carry. They believe that it is what Christ meant when He told the disciples to deny themselves and to take up their cross and follow Him. Let’s look at what He told His disciples.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. – [Matthew 16:24 KJV]

Granted, Christ’s Cross bar appears to be a huge burden, especially after everything He had to endure on the way to Calvary’s tree. In fact, Christ fell once and the soldiers ordered Simon of Cyrene to help Him carry the bar [1]. Christ’s back was already laid bare to the bone and each step must have been excruciating for Him as the bar ground into His scourged back.

Nothing could be further from the truth as to the meaning of what Christ meant. Life is full of burdens that we must endure and work through but when we have Jesus, those burdens are light. Jesus told us to, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light [2].”

Jesus was telling His disciples to die to self and stop trying to help in the decisions of life and just to follow Him. The message behind these three verses was, in fact, obedience. Jesus set the stage of His journey down the Via Dolorosa to the Cross in the Garden of Gethsemane as He prayed to His Father, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

Jesus was not scared or telling His Father, “What have I gotten myself into? Can I change my mind Father?” On the contrary, the Bible prophesies that Christ must suffer and it was His human side that spoke out as He asked His Father, “Will my death really save my people, and do I have to die to save them?” But notice what He stated directly after His question, “. . .Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done.” Hebrews 12:2b confirms this, “. . .who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross. . .

Christ knew that He had to die on the tree, but He also knew that Judas was bringing the soldiers to capture Him. It is my contention that He may have been asking His Father that the cup of premature death be removed from Him as well, because Judas was about to betray Jesus by bringing the soldiers for Christ’s arrest.

Christ’s 33 years of physical life was in obedience to the Father, even unto the death of the Cross. We must daily choose between God’s will and our own. Every day we, as believers, take up our cross and follow Him on our own Via Dolorosa [3]. On our journey, obedience is the key. The question is, how far will we carry our own cross? How far down our Via Dolorosa are we willing to travel? Are we acquiescing to God’s will or to our own? The real question is will we carry our cross unto death – for the sake of Christ? Is our faith in Christ a conviction, or just a preference?
[1] The traditional sense is that Christ actually fell three times but it cannot be verified in Scripture.
[2] Matthew 11:28-30
[3] Via Dolorosa is Latin for “The Way of Grief.”

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