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Take Up Your Cross

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Luke 9:21–26 ESV
21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Luke 9:21–27 ESV
21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9
Luke 9:57–62 ESV
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
In the 9th Chapter of Luke, there are several things that take place. We are only focusing on the overarching theme of this chapter.
The crowd that is following Jesus is convinced that he is getting ready to overthrow the Romans in Israel and establish himself as the Jewish Messiah to save them from their oppressors. HE IS THE NEW MOSES!
Even the Lord’s Disciples think this:
Luke 19:11 NLT
11 The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because he was nearing Jerusalem, he told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away.
Jesus tries to teach them that this is not the case, but they cannot hear His message because of their desires.
In an attempt to awaken them to their own misguided ambitions, Jesus begins to speak to them of the crucified life.
What is our cross?
Our Cross is not a cross of trials and troubles. THAT IS NOT OUR CROSS.
If that were our cross, then even those who do not believe in Jesus Christ are taking up their cross daily.
Our cross is a commitment of denial to self and obedience to Jesus Christ, His leaders and His Word. Even when this cross of obedience is painful, humiliating and something we don’t want. We must be willing to obey.
This cross of obedience to Jesus Christ and to those leaders that God has placed over our lives is challenging, difficult and, until we fully surrender our will go God’s will, stressful.
You can only know peace as you fully surrender you will to God’s will and obey Him in everything!
What would be your answer to these questions?
Would you still follow Jesus if it meant losing your closest friends?
Would you follow Jesus if it meant alienation from your family?
Would you follow Jesus if it meant the loss of your reputation?
Would you follow Jesus if it meant losing your job?
Would you follow Jesus if it meant losing your life?
These are the questions that the daily cross asks us to ask ourselves and many just like them.
Our generation has a passion for loving themselves!
THIS IS THE VERY OPPOSITE OF THE CROSS BEARING LIFE.
Here’s the Biblical description of the present day culture:
2 Timothy 3:1–7 NLT
1 You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! 6 They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires. 7 (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth.)
2 Timothy 3.1-
2 Timothy 3:1–7 AMP
1 BUT UNDERSTAND this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear]. 2 For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate [greedy] desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane. 3 [They will be] without natural [human] affection (callous and inhuman), relentless (admitting of no truce or appeasement); [they will be] slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers), intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good. 4 [They will be] treacherous [betrayers], rash, [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God. 5 For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them]. 6 For among them are those who worm their way into homes and captivate silly and weak-natured and spiritually dwarfed women, loaded down with [the burden of their] sins [and easily] swayed and led away by various evil desires and seductive impulses. 7 [These weak women will listen to anybody who will teach them]; they are forever inquiring and getting information, but are never able to arrive at a recognition and knowledge of the Truth.
As Luke concludes his message of Jesus, he gives us a compilation of three encounters with potential disciples of Jesus to show us what the cross bearing life looks like:
Luke 9:57–62 ESV
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9.57-62
The first potential disciple asks to join with Jesus and Jesus responds:
I’m not sure you really want to. I don’t have a home to call my own.
Luke 9:57–58 NLT
57 As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”
This concept is thematic through out Scripture:
Hebrews 11:8–10 NLT
8 It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. 9 And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. 10 Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.
There's an old gospel song that follows this theme.
"This world is not my home, I'm just a-passing through, My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue, The angels beckon me from heaven's open door, And I can't feel at home in this world any more."
The words to a traditional bluegrass hymn go:
"I don't want to get adjusted to this world, to this world, I've got a home that's so much better I'm gonna go to sooner or later, I don't want to get adjusted to this world."[1]
These are the songs of sojourners. We aren't to be other-worldly and detached from this life. Jesus wasn't. He lived all out in the here-and-now carrying out his Father's mission. But he was a sojourner. He had no home here to call his own. He was on a journey, and Golgotha lay squarely in his route. The road was painful, but had glory at its end. "...Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (). He allowed nothing to distract him from this goal.
Are you so tied up in this world’s gain and your own peace and enjoyment that you can’t deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Jesus?
2. The second potential disciple is asked by the Lord to follow Him:
Luke 9:59–60 NLT
59 He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” 60 But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”
Luke 9.59-60
Now if the man's father has just died, what in the world is the man doing hanging around Jesus? He should be home making funeral arrangements! It's obvious that his father isn't dead -- yet. Not even seriously ill, or the man would be asking Jesus for healing.
What the man is saying is this: I have responsibilities to my father as long as he lives. I'm not free to follow you right now. But when my dad dies -- and he is getting on in years -- then I'll follow you right away. I just can't follow now.
Jesus' answer seems harsh. It seems to run counter to family responsibilities. It is strong: "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Who are the "dead" who are going to conduct the funeral? Jesus is speaking figuratively here of the spiritually dead -- those who have put off following Jesus. The spiritually dead put family responsibilities BEFORE their responsibilities to Jesus. But the spiritually alive are to follow -- NOW!
Later on Jesus said these words:
Luke 14:26 NLT
26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.
Jesus is saying in the strongest possible terms that following him must come before every responsibility we have -- even those which we hold sacred.
For most of us, our call to follow Jesus does NOT mean we have to physically leave our loved ones. But we may need to leave them behind spiritually in order to follow Jesus. You can't say: When my husband gets saved and decides to follow Jesus then I'll be the most faithful disciple you can find anywhere. I just don't want to get ahead of him spiritually. It doesn't work that way. You aren't to choose when you are to follow. Today is the day. Following Jesus is a NOW thing. It is immediate. No excuse you can offer is adequate to put on hold his compelling summons.
1 Timothy 5:8 ESV
8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
"Let the dead bury their own dead," Jesus says, "but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God" (9:60). In this case, Jesus about to send Seventy of his followers to go from village to village to carry the message of the Kingdom (10:1-24). Jesus needs this man ready and committed to be in a certain place at a certain time, even though Jesus hasn't announced the mission yet. But the man can't be counted on. His other commitments keep him from doing Jesus' immediate and glorious will for his life.
The message to you and me is just as strong: "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
Are you so full of your desires, that you cannot see the call of Jesus to take up your cross of daily submitted obedience and rejection of your desires for the sake of your salvation and His Kingdom?
3. Finally, the third potential disciple asks to follow Jesus:
Luke 9:61–62 ESV
61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9.
If the first two people had met hard responses, the third seems harder yet. All the man wanted to do was go home and say good-bye. That's all. What's so wrong with that?
In light of the immediate mission ahead -- the sending out of the Seventy to the villages of Judea -- for the man to go home will mean that he will miss out, though his request seems reasonable enough.
It's like a man who has been drafted into the military in wartime. He says, "I'll report for duty in just a week, but first I need to go home and say good-bye to my girlfriend, my buddies, my mom and dad, my sisters and brothers, and have a final going away party, since I may be away a long time. Is he ready for the army? No way! He is looking to his own needs and desires, not the needs of the service.
Just last week I heard someone in her twenties say, "When I'm young I want to be free to enjoy myself. Later on, then maybe I'll settle down." This is common. I believe in Jesus, but I'm not ready to get too serious about it right now. When I get older I will. What an insult to Jesus!
Whether your plow is pulled by a mule or work horses or a diesel tractor there is one no-no: You never try to plow while looking over your shoulder. If you do, your rows are crooked and your field is difficult to work. If you try to plow while looking back, you're not fit to be in the field. You'd be fired in a hurry by the farmer. Rather, plowmen fix their eyes on a point at the far end of the field and move steadily toward it, not veering to the right side or to the left.
Jesus is making a subtle reference to Lot’s wife by this statement.
Once you commit to take up your cross, you can’t walk looking backwards. A glance back on occasion to ascertain progress isn’t evil nor will it misdirect you. But plowing and looking back will destroy your pursuit.
What kind of leader is Jesus Christ? He is so demanding!
Jesus is the King of the Jews who laid down his life for yours. Jesus is the Creator of the universe, the Head of the Church, Very God of Very God, King of kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last. He holds the keys of Death and Hades. He is the Conqueror and Overcomer. He is the Lamb of God and the Risen from the Dead. He is the Bright and Morning Star. His name is higher than any other.
But he also humbles himself to come looking for you. To speak to you. To encourage your faith. And to pay you the highest compliment you will ever be paid, to call you to follow him. In the Book of Revelation, we read of Jesus, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me" ()
What are you possibly doing that could be more important right now than going immediately to the door and opening it to him?
Are you so full of your desires, that you cannot see the call of Jesus to take up your cross of daily submitted obedience and rejection of your desires for the sake of your salvation and His Kingdom?
Are you so full of your desires, that you cannot see the call of Jesus to take up your cross of daily submitted obedience and rejection of your desires for the sake of your salvation and His Kingdom?
Do hear him calling you? Is he knocking? Do you hear it?
What are you possibly doing that could be more important right now than going immediately to the door and opening it to him?
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