THE WALK OF THE CROSS
What do scriptures like Mathew 10:38 really mean when it say’s, “And he that takes NOT his cross, and does NOT follow after me, is NOT worthy of me”? First, we need to read this verse in context with the flow of thought in the entire passage. According to historians, a person condemned to death by crucifixion had to carry his own crossbeam to the execution site as was within the law of capitol punishment. The cross was an instrument of death and Jesus used this parallel for us to see the cross as a place for our carnality to die and a bridge to heavens grace all at the same time! Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice for us and we likewise sacrifice our will through the same concept so the world can see Him in us. Going back to the collective thought of the section in Mathew chapter 10 we see verses 34-39 explaining that walking with Jesus is not for the faint of heart. Jesus is talking about priorities and how nothing can be exalted above living (and dying if need be) for Him. Even when it comes to family, He is saying there can be NO compromise. Any tolerance of sin leads to backsliding and the danger of a lukewarm attitude toward the red-hot – on fire “passion” of our calling. The walk of the cross is humility that is under girded with Holy strength. It is truly the meaning of life.
Taking up our cross creates the difference between the sheep and goats, the wheat and tares and the spiritual from the religious. It is the definition and foundation of salvation because of the miraculous power of love that it contains. It is the denial of sin and yet also the honor of obedience. It is the suffering of discipline and the source of faith for us to yield our will to Him. It empowers us to choose the narrow path of this life while securing our future with Him in the next life. The cross is NOT an END but an exciting beginning of glory and triumph because of HIS resurrection! It represents THE WAY – the only way into a personal, intimate relationship with God and the guaranteed validity of the promises of His Word. In other words, our entire life as a Christian must be melted down and poured into what the cross represents as the bond of our holy union with Christ. His cross was erected on Golgotha (the place of the scull) and likewise it is there in the deepest recesses of our mind that we must become transformed into His image. We must choose the cross in response to the cross choosing us. Selah. The revelation is learning about what is in His cross – and the responsibilities of our cross. Our heart “chooses” the painful, agonizing transferring of control from us to “His will be done”.
The cross is identification with him and this in turn causes us to become representatives for him. Therefore, we can say it is an example and a descriptive parallel of the requirements of all Christians to surrender everything they are and everything they have to the divine reality of the cross. That message is about the endless love of God to save many from an eternal torment. It is about the endless mercy and compassion on the hopeless condition of lost sinners and how he gave his life to purchase them with his blood. It is more than a piece of jewelry and more than an ornament on top of a steeple, it is a life of suffering persecution, Godly sorrow, sacrificing and denying to live according to our own plans and dreams. It is also the gateway to living in the glory of His presence, being saturated in His love and living in the blessings of His revelations of truth that change us from the inside out – while being a constant reminder that we are NOT our own. “For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s”. (I Corinthians 6:20) “For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant is the Lord’s slave: Likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.” (I Corinthians 7:22)
For Jesus, going to the cross was a mission that was done willingly and likewise it must be with us. Following Him is more than just reading about his adventures; it is actually doing and living just as He lived. The reason why Jesus was so serious and intense all the time is because the cross was always in His heart. This is a revelation for us that can only come from spending time in God’s Word and praying for this revelation.
Jesus embraced the cross as His destiny and “chose” to suffer so that many could be ransomed. He realized how His Father was to use Him as the perfect lamb and that He would become the “bridge” between heaven and earth so that Man could once again crawl into the bosom of God as a little child. We also have the free-will to obey this heavenly invitation so that through our willingness to “walk the walk” many people can hear God’s Word, be convicted by His Holy Spirit and give their hearts to Him. He was filled with genuine agape love, which is the only way He could have endured the assignment – as the same also applies to us in that agape love can be the only reason and motive for our deeds. He walked in humility and was filled with the infinite power of the Holy Spirit the same way we are to walk and live in the divine reality of the miraculous. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For who ever will save his life will lose it: and who ever will lose his life for my sake will find it.” (Mathew 16:24-25) We have been called to lay aside our custom blueprints, our selfish dreams, our independence and carnal nature so that God can be seen in us. Our cross is the daily journey of being like Jesus. Our cross is walking in the divine reality of His Spirit and not giving in to the lust of the flesh.
Do you desire to draw closer to God and bring the power of His cross closer to your heart? Fasting sobers us and is a key to drawing close to Him as it helps us to hear His still small voice so that we can understand the mysteries of His Word. Our conscience can become dull and cluttered with everyday chaos but fasting will bring much needed clarity and quiet to the worldly noise so we can focus on His person. When we just know “about” the cross, it is not the same as KNOWING Him. We can actually become comfortable to its historical image and at the same time become desensitized to its seriousness. Similar to portraying Christ as a baby in the manger, we can mentally reduce Him to a helpless infant while distracting our conscience away from His convicting power as the King of Kings. It is not the cross itself that is the power – it is falling upon it in complete surrender and trust that activates the life-changing power of Christ into our heart. Only when man falls on His face in the humility of repentance can he begin to take baby steps toward his destiny. Sadly, much of our theology has replaced humility with arrogance and the cross with enjoying pleasure. There is a balance, a time for sorrow in the prayer closet and a time to live the abundant life. Jesus was always AWARE of His destiny and he is trying to reveal the revelation of this hidden mystery that we also might be constantly AWARE of who we are and who He is. If we can become focused on the cross that stands before us – it will increase our burden for lost souls. This will happen when we accept these difficult facts.
Number one: the world will hate you and desire to kill you because they hate truth. “Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus WILL suffer persecution.” (II Timothy 3:12) This is not a sermon that will have them dancing in the isles – but it is truth. The farther we go toward the future the more this will become evident. “Then will they deliver you up to be afflicted, and will kill you: and you will be hated of all nations for my name sake. And then will many be offended, and will betray one another, and will hate one another.” (Mathew 24:9-10).
Number two: The cross is not an “option” for the overcomer. “If any man comes to me, and hates not his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple, And who ever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27) It is all about priorities. Our motives and intentions produce attitudes whether good or bad. If we are playing a religious game of church, then we will be more concerned with who is singing out of key and where we are going to eat after the service than interceding on our face before God for others to experience salvation, healing and deliverance. If my prayers are centered on making me rich more than making me a soul winner then I am living on the level of a spiritual toddler. If I believe that Jesus is going to rapture me without me having to suffer any persecution then no wonder I am not concerned with being a living sacrifice. How many brothers and sisters have tasted the martyr’s death? How many are suffering now? Why are we not hearing the sermons warning of the coming persecution that could prepare the saints to stand in the coming days of affliction and trouble? Because, the cross is a message for those who desire spiritual reality – not for the ones that love to live in a fantasy world of relaxation, comfort and pleasure. The cross would rather be seen as a golden ticket to eternal life – not as the refining FIRE that purges our carnality.
If we are in the cross – the cross will be in us and this is the only power in heaven and earth that can transform our mind. His cross bears the fruit of His character and blossoms within the crucified life of the believer. If we surrender to His cross in the inner chambers of our heart – our life will be a reflection of His perfect will. The amount of “work” we allow His cross to do in our life – the more He can accomplish within us. Selah. Let us not be like the hypocritical Pharisee that worships a legalistic, empty religion. If we embrace the truth of the cross and allow it to purify us into pure, transparent gold – all that can be seen will be the presence of Christ. All of me – none of Him, less of me – more of Him, none of me – all of Him. “Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, put up your sword into the sheath: the CUP, which my Father has given me, shall I not DRINK it? (John 18:10-11) Are you drinking this bittersweet cup?