Why would Jesus tell them to take up their cross and follow Him? He hadn’t died on one yet!
8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.
23 Then he said to them all:
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
Jesus made this announcement after telling the disciples what was going to happen in Jerusalem, i.e. the crucifixion. He didn’t tell them how He would die, but He did allude to the method of death with His statement.
A form of crucifixion was first used in the 6th century B.C. by the Persians, was passed on to Alexander the Great, then to the Phoenicians, who passed it onto the Romans who perfected it and used it for 500 years until Emperor Constantine put an end to it in the 4th Century A.D. About a hundred years before Jesus made His pronouncement, crucified slaves lined the Appian Way (about 350 miles) when a revolt led by Spartacus failed. Crucifixion was deemed the most cruel and demeaning way to die. Christ, indeed, took on the worst of mankind.
For Christ’s disciples to take up a cross and follow Him means that they start doing what might ultimately get them crucified–just like it did Jesus. Rarely have I heard this condition in a Gospel presentation. The problem is that to tell a person about heaven but not tell them about the cruciform way (living a crucified life) is a type of bait-and-switch, which is a sales technique that doesn’t care about the purchaser, but only about making the sale. Let’s look at the next two verses,
24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?
What does Jesus want from us? Control of our lives. Why? So that He can give us His life. It’s eternal, it’s personal, it’s joyful, it’s peaceful, and it’s fruitful. Satan makes this world look really, really, good, but there’s no substance to it. In the words of Valerie Bertinelli,
“What good is the decoration if the cake doesn’t taste good?”
(Taken from Kids’ Baking Championship)
Jesus says, “Follow Me and I will give you true life, life to it fullest” (John 10:10b). Another great quote is from Jim Elliot,
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Let’s trust Jesus and tell people the entire Gospel. They deserve to know the whole truth. Will our churches be emptier? Maybe–and maybe not!
Abba, I’m excited about losing cultural Christianity here in America. We may slim up in our churches, but I think we will be healthier in the long run. Am I happy about the changes? No, but I know that historically, Christianity grows from the blood of the martyrs. So, I choose to see a bright future for Your Church, Jesus. May many come to You because of who You are regardless of whatever persecution might come. May we ALL have this same disposition! Amen.