DayBreaks for 11/14/14 – On Carrying Crosses
Matthew 16:24-25 (NLT) – Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
Let’s face it: we are not very fond of the above verse, are we? I mean, how many people do you know who have ever said, “I want to be a Christian because I want to carry my cross and follow Jesus!” No, we may all want to follow Jesus, but very few, if any, have ever wanted to have to carry a cross to do it. Crosses lead us to deadly places. Wouldn’t it have been much more enticing if Jesus has said, “Come, sit in your easy chair and follow me!” But he didn’t. And then he just had to go and throw in that bit about giving up our life for His sake in order to save our life. Some folks just don’t seem to know how to attract followers!
As I thought about this, I thought about why my cross was/is. I must say that it is a bit hard to identify what it is while living in a country that, at least until now, still lets us worship in freedom for the most part. Bearing one’s cross in a country that is blatantly hostile in deadly ways to a profession of Christianity is much more clear, I think.
As I contemplated this issue, it became clear to me that there is another cross that I was destined to bear: the cross that is demanded by my sin. That cross kills not just the body but the soul for eternity. And then I realized that I don’t have to carry that cross, because just as Simon of Cyrene carried the physical cross of Jesus (the symbol of judgment and punishment for his imagined crimes), Jesus carried my cross to Calvary. Why? Because there is no way I could bear it? No, that’s not it. God could have required each and every human being to carry that cross and bear our own punishment for our wrongs…but He didn’t do that. He couldn’t do that. His innate nature of love would not permit Him to sit idly by while every one of the billions of people who have ever lived or will live on this planet carry their cross of punishment into the grave and into hell.
So, Jesus stopped beside me one day while watching me struggle under the weight of my cross and guilt, and without even asking me first, took that cross off my back and carried it for me…to Calvary.
As a result, when Jesus asks me to carry my cross now, it’s a much lighter cross, no matter where it might lead or what it might cost. My burden has been lifted. My punishment has been borne by Another – the One who carried MY cross for me! Whatever cross He may ask me to carry is light in comparison to the one I might have had to carry!
PRAYER: Oh, Jesus! How I long to see you and fall at Your feet and weep out my gratitude to You for carrying MY cross – the one You knew I could never bear! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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