Good Friday Musings…. Taking up the cross.
“Behold the man upon the cross, my sin upon his shoulders. His dying breath has brought me life…” - How Deep The Father’s Love For Us, Stewart Townend
Today, as I see Jesus upon the cross, I am reminded of two things: 1) He died so that I might live, I had no hope otherwise. 2) I must join Him in that death, in order to truly experience the life He gives.
Because of Jesus obedience to deny himself and take up His cross, I have the gift of salvation, the gift of being “released” from my sin. Now I have what the Apostle Paul calls “new life” and now I am a part of the “new creation.” My blind eyes have been opened and I see that Jesus is the way, He is the truth, and He is the life. This world has nothing for me… it is perishing… true life is only found in Jesus. So, I set my life to following Him.
To the crowd of followers on the road to Jerusalem… amazed by His miracles, captivated by His teachings… Jesus turns to them and says, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” And later says, “Whoever tries to make his life secure [in this world] will lose it, and whoever loses his life [in this world] will preserve it.” Luke 14:27 & 17:32
Today, even in the Church, we are inspired by great teaching, moved by powerful songs and amazed at the miracles… but not so comfortable with losing our lives in this world. We fight to have the right political party in office to ensure our comfort and security. We can’t quite let go of those things that occupy our hearts and our minds – those things that keep us from seeking His kingdom first.
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24-25
Jesus bids that we would follow him in death [to this world], so that we may truly live. So, our response is to lay down our rights, give up our comfort, take up our cross, love like Jesus and live for the sake of others.
“Deny yourself and follow Christ, or deny Christ and follow yourself. Those are the options. The results? Saving your life or losing it. If we are going to follow Christ and gain our real life, we must take up our own cross. That is, we must experience our own crucifixion. Crucifixion is an interesting thing. It is hard to do by yourself. In fact, it is impossible. You might be able to nail one hand to the cross, but what are you going to do when you get to the next hand? The crucifixion of the self is a cooperative affair between us and the Lord. We cannot die to self without the help of God’s grace.” – Dallas Willard, Life Without Lack
“I am crucified with Christ, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave His life for me.” Galatians 2:20
“The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship, we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus, it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
“For I have often told you, and now say against with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction; the god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:18-20
So, now I am a citizen of heaven and my life belongs to the age to come. I seek first the Kingdom of God and I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus who gives us abundant, eternal life – described in the Scriptures as a love that surpasses knowledge, a peace that passes understanding and joy inexpressible and the power of the resurrection – the wealth of His glorious inheritance in the saints.
“And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.” 1 John 2:17
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20