Then Jesus said to the disciples, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let them deny them self and take up their cross and follow me. For anyone who keeps their life for them self shall lose it; and anyone who loses their life for me shall find it again. Matthew 16: 24-25
Some years ago, I was present at a College board meeting where every board member was presented with a wooden cross to symbolise the hope that as Christians, we each had in Christ.
With the commencement of Lent, I am again drawn to focus on Christ’s sufferings as He made the ultimate sacrifice on His cross, at Easter.
I have been reflecting on what Jesus was referring when he said ‘“If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let them deny them self, and take up their cross, and follow Me.”
Taking up our “cross” is God’s will for us, regardless of the cost. Taking up our cross is a choice; it is not beyond our control. Often, we might be mistaken to think that health problems, financial pressures, broken relationships or other tragic life events are our cross to bear. Neither circumstances we face, nor consequences of our own actions are our cross.
If we are waiting for a relationship with God that never requires suffering or inconvenience, then we cannot use Christ as our model. God’s will for us involves a cross. Jesus did not settle for half-hearted obedience. He obeyed the Father fully and completely. Even to death – all the way to the cross. For Jesus, the cross symbolized full and complete obedience to God. And that’s what it means for us.
If we want to follow Jesus, we will follow Him in complete obedience wherever He leads. That is our cross to bear. At first, this may seem very daunting. After all, look where full obedience led Jesus?
But as Jesus went on to remind us in verses 24-25 – why would we want to hang on to something that doesn’t last anyway? Why then would we not give everything we have to God in order to get all God has to give us?
So, the cross that I received all those years ago means even so much more. It is a reminder of my cross of obedience to follow Jesus into the full and purposeful life God has in store for me! In this I have hope!