Do not come unless you can say to your Lord and to us, “The Cross is the attraction.”
Your Master’s life was dominated by a cross. He has called you also to a life with a cross. This clear gospel note is so easy to forget in flabby Western society. With a great chorus of custom, advertisement and temptation this world is beckoning you to a life of self-indulgence. Your flesh is drawn to that appeal, and will fall in with the world’s suggestions. But the Lord of glory has called you to a life of self-denial, to a cross.
Bearing a cross is an elaboration of Christ’s demand for self-denial. Bearing a cross is every Christian’s daily, conscious selection of those options which will please Christ, pain self, and aim at putting self to death.
The only lasting and fully satisfying joys for any man lie on the other side of a cross.
Not one man has ever sacrificed for his Lord without being richly repaid. If the cross is only contrasted with earthly pleasures lost, it may seem hard and threatening. But when the cross is weighed in the balances with the glorious treasures to be had through it, even the cross seems sweet.
We want gain without pain; we want the resurrection without going through the grave; we want life without experiencing death; we want a crown without going by way of the Cross. But in God’s economy, the way up is down.
We all have a cross to carry. But it’s a cross that kills our sins, smashes our idols, and teaches us the folly of self-reliance. It’s a cross that says I’ll do anything to follow Jesus, not a cross that says I have to do everything for Jesus.
We must never forget – if we are to grow in grace, and therefore grow like Christ – that the One we trust, love, and serve is a crucified Savior. To follow Him means taking up the cross, as well as denying ourselves. It means a crucified life.
“Cross-bearing” derives from the Roman custom of making condemned persons carry their crossbar to the place of execution…. It implies that one’s life in this world is already finished.
The cross must be borne before the crown can be worn.
What our Lord said about cross-bearing and obedience is not in fine type. It is in bold print on the face of the contract.
We are not bearing our crosses every time we have a headache; an aspirin tablet will take care of that. What is meant is the trouble we would not have if we were not Christians.
Where are the marks of the cross in your life? Are there any points of identification with your Lord? Alas, too many Christians wear medals but carry no scars.
The underlying figure is that of a condemned man who is forced to take up and carry his own cross to the place of execution. However, what the convict does under duress, the disciple of Christ does willingly. He voluntarily and decisively accepts the pain, shame, and persecution that is going to be his particular – note: his, not someone else’s – lot because of his loyalty to Christ and his cause.
What are our crosses? They are not simply trials and hardships… A cross results from specifically walking in Christ’s steps, embracing His life. It comes from distain because we follow the narrow way of Jesus Christ… Our crosses come from and are proportionate to our dedication to Christ. Difficulties do not indicate cross-bearing, though difficulties for Christ’s sake do.
Cross bearing means to fully embrace, identify with and follow Jesus wherever that will take us and with whatever that will cost us.
When a man or woman allows his will to be crossed out, canceling the great “I” in their decisions, then indeed the Cross has been applied to that life. This is the meaning of taking up one’s cross daily – to go to one’s own death – no longer my will in the matter but His will be done.
When Jesus said, “take up your cross” to them, they thought of a cruel instrument of torture and death. They thought of dying in the most agonizing method known to man. They thought of poor, condemned criminals hanging on crosses by the roadside. Doubtless they had seen men executed in that fashion. They understood He was calling them to die for Him. They knew He was asking them to make the ultimate sacrifice, to surrender to Him as Lord in every sense.
No matter how terrible they may be, the hardships and tragedies of human living that often befall Christians are not the crosses of which Jesus speaks. Such things as a cruel spouse, a rebellious child, a debilitating or terminal illness, the loss of a job, or destruction of a house by a tornado or flood, may strongly test a believer’s faith; but those are not crosses. The cross of a believer is not a mystical or spiritual identification with the cross of Christ or some “crucified life” idea. Such concepts are foreign to the context, and the cross of Christ was yet future when Jesus spoke here. The disciples would hear cross and think only of physical death. A cross is the willing sacrifice of everything one has, including life, for the sake of Christ. It is something that, like the Lord Himself, a believer must take on himself when it is thrust upon him by the unbelieving world because of his relationship to God.
Taking up one’s cross is not some mystical level of selfless “deeper spiritual life” that only the religious elite can hope to achieve. Nor is it the common trials and hardships that all persons experience sometime in life. A cross is not having an unsaved husband, nagging wife, or domineering mother-in-law. Nor is it having a physical handicap or suffering from an incurable disease. To take up one’s cross is simply to be willing to pay any price for Christ’s sake. It is the willingness to endure shame, embarrassment, reproach, rejection, persecution, and even martyrdom for His sake.
When the disciples and the crowd heard Jesus speak of taking up the cross, there was nothing mystical to them about the idea. They immediately pictured a poor, condemned soul walking along the road carrying (which is an accurate translation of airo, meaning “to raise, beat, or carry”) the instrument of his execution on his back. A man who took up his cross began his death march, carrying the very beam on which he would hang.
It’s as if you could see Jesus Christ going along the road to the cross, the Via Dolorosa moving to His own execution, bearing on His back the cross upon which He will bear the sins of all the world. And in His train, millions of people, all with their cross, willing to take His reproach. Glorious scene.
We must keep in mind that Jesus’ path to glory was marked by pain before pleasure, sorrow before joy, humiliation before glorification, persecution before exaltation, death before resurrection, earthly hatred before heavenly worship. To remember those truths about our Lord’s earthly life will protect us from the foolish and ungodly promises of the so-called health and wealth gospel, which vitiates His command to take up our crosses as He took up His.
If you will bear the cross, it will bear you.
The remedy is to turn back to the cross. Our Lord proved to us the redemptive power of suffering for His sake. But we have to choose it. We are constantly tempted to withdraw into self-protection and anger and defensiveness. But looking to the Lord moment by moment, we can embrace the cross with its pain and see Him use us to communicate more grace to people who aren’t even asking for it. We didn’t ask, and He suffered for us anyway. That kind of love was the only power that could get through to us. And it did.
Christ died to save us from hell but not to save us from the cross. He died so that we could be glorified, but not to keep us from being crucified. "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily." For the Christian the cross of Christ is not merely a past place of substitution. It is also a present place of daily execution.
The cross is not a mere event in history; it’s a way of life! Take up your cross DAILY, Jesus said!
Choosing the cross over comfort is a requirement for following Christ [Lk. 9:23].
Christ and His cross are not separable in this life, howbeit Christ and His cross part at heaven’s door, for there is no house-room for crosses in heaven. One tear, one sigh, one sad heart, one fear, one loss, one thought of trouble cannot find lodging there.
We must not conceal from ourselves that true Christianity brings with it a daily cross in this life, while it offers us a crown of glory in the life to come. The flesh must be daily crucified. The devil must be daily resisted. The world must be daily overcome. There is a warfare to be waged, and a battle to be fought. All this is the inseparable accompaniment of true religion. Heaven is not to be won without it. Never was there a truer word than the old saying, “No cross, no crown!” If we never found this out by experience, our souls are in a poor condition.
I grant it costs much to be a true Christian. But who in his sound senses can doubt that it is worth any cost to have the soul saved? When the ship is in danger of sinking, the crew think nothing of casting overboard the precious cargo. When a limb is mortified, a man will submit to any severe operation, and even to amputation, to save life. Surely a Christian should be willing to give up anything which stands between him and heaven. A religion that costs nothing is worth nothing! A cheap Christianity, without a cross, will prove in the end a useless Christianity, without a crown.
Be ashamed to use the vulgar arts of a recruiting sergeant. Do not speak only of the uniform, the pay, and the glory; speak also of the enemies, the battle, the armor, the watching, the marching, and the drill. Do not present only one side of Christianity. Do not keep back “the cross” of self-denial that must be carried, when you speak of the cross on which Christ died for our redemption. Explain fully what Christianity entails. Entreat men to repent and come to Christ; but bid them at the same time to “count the cost.”
When I was an object of much contempt and derision in the University, I strolled forth one day, buffeted and afflicted, with my little Testament in my hand. I prayed earnestly to my God that He would comfort me with some cordial from His Word, and that, on opening the book, I might find some text which should sustain me… The first text which caught my eye was this: “They found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; him they compelled to bear His cross.” You know Simon is the same name as Simeon. What a word of instruction was here — what a blessed hint for my encouragement! To have the cross laid upon me, that I might bear it after Jesus — what a privilege! It was enough. Now I could leap and sing for joy as one whom Jesus was honoring with a participation in His sufferings.
Toothaches and noisy neighbors and broken dishwashers are not “crosses.” The Bible would call these trials or “thorns.” Crosses are the pain and shame and persecution we face for being a loyal follower of Jesus Christ. Willingness to carry your cross stems from the self-denial and is the ultimate test of your loyalty to follow Him (see Luke 9:23).
There are no crown-wearers in heaven who were not cross-bearers here below.
Jesus hath many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His cross.
In every Christian’s heart there is a cross and a throne, and the Christian is on the throne till he puts himself on the cross; if he refuses the cross, he remains on the throne. Perhaps this is at the bottom of the backsliding and worldliness among gospel believers today. We want to be saved, but we insist that Christ do all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar; but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility.
And whatever cross I am required to bear, let me see Him carrying a heavier.