A LIVING SACRIFICE
Then 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, New King James Version
Defining Your Cross
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus tell us:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
He makes it very clear. Christ is our burden-bearer, our heavy-load sharer. The burdens spoken of in Matthew are not the Cross of Luke 9. The Cross is our place of self-denial.
Self-denial is the rebar in the concrete foundation of our belief in God. It keeps our faith intact when the grounds shifts beneath our feet reinforcing who is in control. It is the equivalent to his crucifixion, the place where we die daily to our desires and live for his.
Through the Cross Jesus is asking each of us to deny self.
So how can you carry someone else's cross? You can't.
Luke 9:23-25 in the Message Translation reads like this:
“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?
Self-denial reveals true self. No one can take this journey but you.
On The Journey of a Lifetime
"Take up his cross"
The root wording of this phrase is embedded in the nautical terminology of that day. It makes sense given his audience. Many of the disciples survived off the sea so let's look at the text in their context:
Take up - to weigh anchor, draw up, bear what has been raised and sail away
his - implies a personal environment of confusion and despair - akin to the "baffling winds" (dense, lower air versus flowing, higher air) that would keep ships stuck for weeks in the region.
"cross" - to take a stand for the loss of self and gain of Christ
The imagery might look like this...
It is time to weight anchor. No more living stuck in the dense atmosphere of confusion and sin. I have a higher place for you. Draw up your self-denial from the deep and sail away with me.
No one can take this journey of a lifetime except you.
Is It a Cross or a Burden?
Now that we know what a cross is, my question to you is what are you carrying?
I fear some of us have defined burdens as crosses.
Over and over in scripture, God encourages us to give our problems and concerns over to him. Even in Galatians 6, where it clearly states we are to help one another in this area, Paul also emphasizes...
Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. ~Galatians 6:5
Ultimately we each must take responsibility for our own burdens but we are also called to manifest support for one another first and always through intercessory prayer:
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
You have given us an awesome responsibility. Deny self. Love and pray for others. Carry our cross. Leave our burdens (and other's) at yours. Give us the wisdom to know the difference between the cross we carry and the burdens we share. Let our response to each be according to your will and your will alone. In the name of our Great Navigator, Christ Jesus, we pray. Amen.