Luke 14:27  “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

     This is a hard saying of Jesus.  What can it mean?   Does it mean that I have to carry my cross for the rest of my life, struggling under its chafing weight?  Did Jesus carry His cross for the entire time of His ministry?  Or was the cross an instrument on which Jesus’ ministry on earth was fulfilled?  To pick up our cross and follow Jesus entails more than walking our entire life bent over and crippled by the weight of our cross.  Paul said; ” I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

     At some point, we have to accept the work of the cross in our life.  That is, we must die on it and be healed and be raised by God.  “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)  And when does this happen?  It happened!  This was the work of Jesus on His cross and the great victory;  “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”  (Romans 6:6)

     And how does a person come to this?  Pick up your cross and follow Jesus!  For me my cross is truly being honest about  about what I  was and what I am without Jesus.  To carry my cross is to walk in the conviction of what I have done, how I have fallen short and failed.  My cross is the terrible knowledge of what I was and what I always will be apart from Jesus.  To be aware that I am caught up in my own head of illusions and lies; trapped in my own body that was born to die.  To know that Jesus died for my sins while I was yet a sinner (Romans 5:8) and like Paul desperately wanting to change but being of my self powerless to change.  “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)

     Sadly some never pick up the cross.  Perhaps they are indifferent to it; they think it foolish.  Others may believe that they don’t need to die to self; they’re pretty good and Jesus just makes them better.   A. W. Tozer said; “Among the plastic saints of our times, Jesus has to do all the dying, and all we want to hear is another sermon about his dying.”  The tough truth is we have to die to live and if we want to live now as disciples of Jesus we have to die before we die.  This isn’t such bad news if you have been lugging around your cross and getting sick of the stench of your own exhausted flesh like Paul was.

     I almost made a big  mistake thinking that the proper Christian life was to lug my cross around all the days of my life.  Carrying your cross but never following Jesus all the way through to the other side – to the resurrection side of the cross lays a heavy burden of flesh upon us.  I knew that Jesus died for me and I thought that all the effort and struggle I made carrying around my cross would please Him.  I would wave to Him up on His cross as I continued to circle around and around Calvary, dragging my cross.   What a fool I was!  He delivered me; “For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:10,11)

     When God revealed the work of His cross to me my spirit rejoiced and rose up.  Now I know that the cross isn’t the destination; it is the means by which we arrive.  Why go to the beach in my car and then sit sweating in the car all day long never leaving to swim in the water and enjoy the sea?  In Jesus Christ, I walk a new man;  “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)

     There is no contradiction between ‘whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple’ and “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”  (Matthew 11:29)    Oh I still have a body of flesh and live in it.  And the world has made its imprint upon my body with wounds and piercings.  But as Jesus’ wounds were healed – so mine are.  Like Jesus I  show my healed  wounds as a testimony to God’s awesome power.  I am no longer crippled by my flesh.

     Praise the Lord!