April 2016

Take up Your Cross

Matthew 16:24

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.’”


Given that we’ve been going together through the Easter season, we’ve been spending a lot of time thinking and talking about the cross. I know, I know – you’re saying, “Preacher, don’t you realize that Easter’s about the resurrection, about new life, and the empty tomb?!” Well, that’s right, and it’s a beautiful part, filled with hope, and power and significance. But, it’s only part of the Easter story. The part that we really need to make sure we’ve got down is the cross, and what Christ accomplished through His sacrifice on our behalf.


You see, without the cross, there would be no resurrection. Without the cross, there would be no forgiveness and salvation. Without the cross, there would be no redemption and reconciliation. As Jesus died, He cried out “It is finished!” He said that there, on the cross, not in the doorway of the tomb. The ministry of healing that Jesus came to this earth to accomplish was completed at Calvary. That’s why we call the day we commemorate Christ death “Good Friday.”


I wonder if we give enough thought to the cross – what was done there, what Jesus went through, and what it cost the Father. If we did, I think we’d see more of a difference in our lives. We’d love others more. We’d serve others better. We’d forgive more readily. We’d give with greater abandon. And, most importantly, we’d surrender ourselves more completely to God and His plan for our lives.


In the Scripture passage above, Jesus told the disciples what would be required to be sons and daughters of the Living God. I mean, who doesn’t, once they’ve experienced life without Jesus, and seen what it can be with Him, wouldn’t want to go with Him – wherever He goes. The words of that old hymn come to mind: “Wherever He leads, I’ll go; I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so; Wherever He leads, I’ll go.” And that sounds great, until we think about where He went. To the cross. Are we ready for that?


That’s what He calls us to do. To abandon ourselves, to put down the life that we’ve created for ourselves and fall headlong into the life that God has designed especially for us. A life of service and sacrifice, to be sure. But, also a life of joy and peace and love. To pick up our own cross – a cross that represents a death of humiliation, shame, pain and unspeakable suffering – and bear it with courage, conviction, passion and hope – to wherever Jesus goes.


My prayer for us as Christians, and for us as a church, is that we will develop within ourselves the burning desire to go wherever Jesus goes, and do what He does, and be who He wants us to be. Make the cross a part of your life today!


In His Love,

Bro. Heath