24 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.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
One of the problems that we have as human beings is trying to cling to our rights and what we think we deserve. We tend to value ourselves at a level that we feel like we have earned the right to receive. We want all of our successes to be celebrated with great enthusiasm and all of our failures to be forgotten about with great amnesia. Sadly, our human nature even wants to esteem ourselves above others that we really know nothing about. The truth is, when we become true followers of Christ we give over all the rights of our lives to the One who has the unquestionable right to lead us. In truly following the Lord we believe Him, we trust Him, and we let Him accomplish His purpose through our life without regard to whatever we may think that we deserve. When we take up our cross to follow the Lord, we must live by the cross and all that it stands for.
1. The cross is about total and complete obedience.
But, I sometimes find it difficult to obey. I want to do what’s right, but I struggle with the actual implementation of it in my life. We must learn to obey the same way Jesus learned to obey.
5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; ( reverent submission)
8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
Jesus, God in the flesh, learned obedience the very same way that you and I learn obedience. Through the endurance of affliction. Jesus allowed His suffering to keep moving Him forward on the path of obedience. Jesus let obedience be the direct result of all of his suffering. Those things that we are going through in life are really not as negative as they seem. Through our suffering or trials we are having our weaknesses and faults worked on and God is going to make out of our lives what he wants us to be. A quote I read recently says “God does not require of us the martyrdom of the body; He requires only the martyrdom of the heart and the will.”
2. The cross leads us to obedience, but it also points to surrender.
From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, & suffer many things of the elders & chief priests & scribes, & be killed, & be raised again the third day.
Did you see that word in the course of that scripture text?
• He must go into Jerusalem
• He must suffer many things
• He must be killed
• He must be raised the third day
When Jesus said “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross , and follow me” He knew exactly what He had in mind. The saying “it’s my cross to bear”, when we’re just talking about a difficulty or an unpleasant situation, is not what Jesus was talking about. An illness, difficult relationship, or an unlikable job are not our cross. Those are things that we have to tolerate even when we don’t want to, but the cross must be something that you choose to bear. When Jesus tells us to take up our cross, He isn’t talking about simply resigning ourselves to unavoidable circumstances. But actually, to surrendering and yielding ourselves to his will for our life.
Jesus didn’t come to this Earth so we would have a great nativity story at Christmas time. Jesus didn’t humble himself and come as a man so that we could know that he obeyed his parents. Jesus wasn’t born to be known as a great teacher and the healer of mankind’s illnesses. The cross, for Jesus, was the ultimate purpose of His life and he had to surrender all along the way so it would come to pass.
We cannot use life or circumstances as excuses of why we do not follow after God’s will for our lives. Surrender is surrender no matter what is or isn’t going on in our lives. The cross for you and I must be a sign and symbol for us to obediently carry out the will of God in our own lives. If we will walk in a right relationship and in obedience with God, then God will bring to completion his amazing will for our lives. Nothing out of our own circumstances will prevent it. We pray much of the time and tell the Lord “I just want you to know what is on my heart”, but surrender says “I just want to know what’s on your heart”. A true Christian has learned that his life is not his own, but he lives unto the One who died for him and was raised again. A true Christian’s life is marked by complete, unwavering obedience to the will and purpose of God no matter what is asked of them.
The cross calls out for you and I to be obedient and surrender to the Lord in this present world. This all isn't just for us to be saved from our sins and enjoy the blessings of the Lord’s rich presence, but it's about being obedient to the Lord and surrendering to His presence for our lives. Are you being obedient to the Lord and His Word, today? Is your heart, soul, and life fully surrendered to God’s will, today?
Take up your cross, and follow Jesus!