My Cross – Better Find One Quick
Jesus explained to his disciples that he needed to go to Jerusalem, the place where he was in the most danger of arrest by the Sanhedrin. Peter knew leaders of the Jews intended to silence Jesus. So, Peter, the tough guy, “I’ll do it myself guy,” a Man’s-Man kinda guy that he is, took Jesus aside and attempted to correct His thinking saying, “Never, Lord; this shall never happen to You!” (Matthew 16:22, NIV).
Sound familiar? It definitely sounds like something I would do. I can’t deny it. Every time God doesn’t comply with my thinking, I pull Him aside and try to set Him straight. Or worse, I pull-a-Jacob and wrestle God for the answer for weeks, months, and sometimes years before I finally give in and accept His answer and timing (Genesis 32:24-30).
“Then [after Jesus chastised Peter for trying to correct Him] He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23, NKJV).
What? What do you mean, “Do I have a cross?” To people of this time, the thought of a cross was horrifying.
No! Well, maybe. What do you mean?
My Cross – Gonna Find Me One
There was obvious confusion with this statement. For us, we will start with the easier part of the statement. How did Jesus deny himself? He set aside his glory [fully God] to become one of us [fully man] (Hebrews 2:5-18). He set aside his own desires and fears, and allowed himself to be taken prisoner, tortured, scourged, and hung on a cross in shame.
Yes, shame. When crucified, people hung naked on the cross, their crime written above their head for everyone to read and gossip and ensure passersby mocked and ridiculed. The Roman cross was a shameful way to die. And yet, Jesus accepted death by torture and shame, heaping our death sentence upon himself and giving us His righteousness instead. He traded places with us. Matthew reminded us of this obligation, quoting Jesus saying, “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38, NKJV).
My Cross – Gotta Pick It Up More Often
So, again, what does it mean to take up your cross daily? Jesus is saying, search your heart for all of your impure thoughts, all of the indecent images you peeked at on the internet, all of the mean and hurtful things you said, the work you faked, your nakedness. Find every shameful act and thought and pick them up, gather them together in your arms and carry them forward. Don’t let your shame hold you back. The pain, sorrow, and shame did not stop Jesus, and He is telling us not to let shame slow you down.
Jesus wants us to know that any hindrance to sharing God’s word must be picked up and carried with us. Nothing should stop us from spreading the good news. “…If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself,” Jesus said (Matthew 16:24, NKJV). “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25, NKJV). Therefore, as Jesus commands, when we are busy, and the opportunity to share threatens to derail our plans, we need to stop, deny our plans, pick up our shame, faults, lack of knowledge, and stop what we are doing to tell someone about our Lord and Savior. Don’t be found unworthy.