Take Up Your Cross
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”—Galatians 2:20 (ESV).
Can you feel His pain? With eyes closed, can you imagine the sounds, sights and smells of that bleak Friday, when our Savior and Lord was nailed to the cross, not for His transgressions, but for ours?
Have you ever sat quietly, considering what He did for you and become overwhelmed by the thoughts of His sacrifice? Did you ever ask why He willingly gave up His life for yours?
Not My Will, but Yours
“And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will’” (Mark 14:36).
Jesus’ words, as well as His actions, the night before His crucifixion reveal a life of obedience. He knew the pain He would face, not just physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually. He accepted willingly the cross He would bear for all mankind.
What Paul Understood
The Apostle Paul understood the sacrifice made by His Savior. However, it took a mighty act of God—being struck blind on the road to Damascus—to open the eyes of this persecutor of Christ’s followers.
After Paul’s life-changing experience on that dusty road, he was baptized and instructed in the Christian faith. The most determined of the apostles, Paul suffered brutal physical pain, persecution, and eventually martyrdom. What was Paul’s secret to enduring a lifetime of hardship for the sake of the gospel?
We Can Do All Things
Paul’s secret can be ours, too. In Philippians 4:13, he says, “. . . for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power” (TLB).
Confessing our sins, we experience a death. We let go of our old self—crucifying it, so that we can be clothed in His righteousness.
But, it doesn’t end there. It is a daily dying to self, requiring the strength of our Savior.
Being a Disciple of Christ
In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
What did He mean by “taking up your cross daily?”
We’ve all judged someone or complained about our day or situation. Those thoughts and words are displeasing to God, requiring us to nail them to the cross, an inner “cross.”
Evangelical teacher Richard Chin says, “To take up your cross is to consider it better to die than to live for something other than Jesus.”
Living and Dying for Jesus
In Philippians 1:21, the Apostle Paul writes, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Why would Paul make that statement? What did he mean?
Pastor John Piper explains it this way. “But here’s the way I would say it by putting together both ‘to die is gain’ and ‘to live is Christ’: Christ is most magnified in us when we are more satisfied in Him than in what we lose in death and what we have in life.”
Finding Satisfaction in Christ
Realizing our possessions and the search for happiness in relationships never satisfies, we can find rest in the knowledge that God offers us Himself in the person of Christ. Only Jesus can exceed our expectations. Only our Savior can provide our needs and fulfill our desires.
Jesus is “the bread of life.” He has told us that whoever comes to Him “shall not hunger,” and whoever believes in Him “shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
Our Victory in Christ
It’s not Good Friday that spurs us on to victory in Christ. It’s Resurrection Sunday. Knowing that from the ashes of His death, Jesus rose, just as He promised, gives us hope everlasting.
Rejoice! Christ has risen. He has risen, indeed!
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