Christian, Take Up Your Cross

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

His Cross” Proves Every Human Life Is Precious

This past week former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted for second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter. Chauvin knelt on the neck of a suspect named George Floyd. Floyd plead with Chauvin. He said “I can’t breathe” at least 16 times. Floyd asked for “water”. I watched the video, and heard Floyd saying “Don’t kill me … I’m about to die”, and crying out for his mother. If I had been there I probably would have been arrested. My heart broke as I watched Floyd die.

Whether Floyd was a criminal or not, he was none the less made in God’s image and in God’s likeness (Genesis 1:26). When God made the animals no details are given, other than God allowed Adam to name them (Genesis 2:19). When God made humanity, He “breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). Humans are distinctively different from animals. When Noah got off the Ark, God told him:

Genesis 9:2-6 …. the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. 3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. 5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Noah and his descendants were given the animal kingdom, and were allowed to take meat from those creatures. But God warned Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. Man is allowed to kill man, but only to punish for and protect from capital offenses. I am told that Chauvin faces either 40 years imprisonment, or 75 years imprisonment (depending on whether sentencing is concurrent or consecutive). God’s law demands something else. To maliciously take any life is a capital offense in God’s Kingdom.

Life is precious. Every life is precious. If you don’t think so, consider the Cross. Jesus Christ came from eternity to this earth to demonstrate the love of God. The Apostle said:

1 Timothy 1:15 … Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Sin Causes Problems Humans Cannot Fix

With the Chauvin verdict in, I saw news reports of people applauding and cheering. I also heard people on the other side saying things like “Unfair! Floyd was on drugs – this is what killed him”. Neither side gets it. Neither conservative nor liberal understands. There should be no cheering, no taking of sides. A human life was needlessly taken. George Floyd should not have died that way.

This is why humans, as we are, cannot make us right with God. We are blind to sin. Sin blinds us. Sin comes to us, dressed up in filthy rags.

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

No human born of Adam can make things right with God, because we are all, at heart, corrupt. We cannot see sin, unless our seeing benefits us.

The only way that God could save sinners would be to become Man, and punish Himself. When Adam sinned, he caused an offense against an eternal and unchanging God. But Adam also brought disease into our minds.

Genesis 2:17 … of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Have you ever noticed it is the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” that Adam ate from? Eating of this tree makes US – the created – believe that WE KNOW WHAT IS BEST, BETTER THAN THE CREATOR. When Adam sinned, he immediately died spiritually and mentally, which would lead to eventual physical death. His natural born children are both spiritually and mentally broken. As humans, we have the audacity to believe that we know what is best for ourselves, and for those around us. We do not know. We are broken.

Romans 5:12 By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

Adam brought mental and spiritual death on us all. A breach was made between us and God, a breach that only God could bridge. Guilty people cannot – nor in most cases are they even willing to try – to make themselves guiltless before an immutable, unchanging God.

God temporarily accepted animal sacrifices as a means by which humans could approach Him. The lamb was to be slain as a Peace Offering between God and man. God told the priests to kill the lamb without blemish, and pour all of it’s blood out at the bottom of the altar. Then:

Leviticus 4:35 … the priest shall burn {the lamb and it’s fat} upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.

That this was but a temporary offering for sin is seen in that the lamb without blemish was killed year after year. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin” (Hebrews 9:22). The Bible says that the Old Testament law of sacrifices was but a shadow of something better to come. The Bible says:

Hebrews 10:1-4 … those sacrifices which they offered year by year {over and over again could not} make {those who offered animal sacrifices} perfect {in the eyes of God}. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

If the animal sacrifices permanently covered our sins, the Bible would not have required that the sacrifices be made over and over again, year after year. The very repetition of these sacrifices shows that they were but temporary.

Preach This! Man is NOT an ANIMAL, so animal sacrifices could only, by God’s allowance, make a temporary covering for sin. These sacrifices looked forward to the coming of God Himself, dying for our sins. In order for God to die for our sins, God would have to become man, Perfect Man. Perfect Man in turn would have to live in this world, never following Adam’s sin, but always doing as God would require. Perfect Man would have to be like us in humanity. Perfect Man would NOT be like us in sin.

This Perfect Man is Jesus Christ. The Bible declares:

Hebrews 10:5-10 Wherefore when {God the Son} cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering {You, Father God, would not accept}, but a body {the Holy Spirit of God has} prepared {for} me: 6 in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said {Jesus Christ}, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when {God} said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 then said {God the Son}, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. {God} taketh away the first {Covenant of Animal Sacrifices}, that he may establish the second {Covenant of Grace}. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

In the above text the items in brackets {} are my additions, but they seem true to the point the text is making. In the Old Testament an Altar was used to sacrifice animals, making a temporary atonement or covering for sin.

In the New Testament God did not use an altar of wood or of stone to atone for sin.
God used a Cross, a platform made from a tree.

The Cross was a killing tool by which criminals who wrongly took lives (like Derek Chauvin did with George Floyd). The ancient Jews normally stoned criminals to death outside the city square. But God prophetically spoke of the Cross in:

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: 23 his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

This was a prophecy of the Cross of Christ.
It was by a tree that Adam brought sin into the world.
It is by a tree – a Cross – that God permanently covers the sins of those who believe in Him.

The Apostle Paul quoted Deuteronomy when he wrote: Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Sin is no trifle, no small thing. We see the power of sin by looking at the Cross of Christ. Sin is a debt owed to God, a debt we cannot pay, but Jesus did. God hates sin, for sin makes humans treat one another like animals. God HATES sin (Habakkuk 1:13), whereas we as humans make light of it. Sin forced the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If You Are Saved, You Will Embrace The Cross

I find it interesting that twice in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus tells us to “take up His Cross”. In the first text:

Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

The genuine Christian will take up His Cross and follow Jesus. The Cross was not forced on Jesus, but He willingly took it upon Himself. The Bible says:

Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he MUST go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day

Jesus was not forced to go to the Cross – He willingly did so because, as the Son of God, He loves humanity as much as do the Father and the Spirit. Jesus was filled with compassion for us (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 6:34; 8:2; John 11:33). Love compelled Jesus to lay His life down for us. He said:

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Follow this line of reasoning, if you will.

God is love.
God died for us.

God willingly took the Cross.
We are saved by believing God died for us.
If we are saved, God indwells us.

If God indwells us, then we love like Him.
We willingly take the Cross.
We are love.

1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

The Christian embraces the Cross at New Birth – at the point of salvation – and the Christian embraces the Cross daily. It is no Christian who does not embrace the Cross. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Word Study When Jesus said that the person who refuses the Cross is is not worthy of me, He is using the Greek ἄξιος áxios, {pronounced ax’-ee-os}, meaning “unworthy”, but it also means “does not have the weight of, does not measure up”. When God brought judgment on King Belshazzar, the ghostly hand wrote on the wall:

Daniel 5:27 TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

The Bible says “A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight” (Proverbs 11:1). Jesus told Belshazzar, and tells us, “If you will not take up your Cross and follow Me, your PROFESSION does not match your POSSESSION. The Christian takes up the Cross and follows Jesus. The non-Christian shuns the Cross and embraces the world of self”. The late Evangelist A.W. Tozer wrote:

Only in America can we develop instant potatoes, instant TV dinners, and instant coffee. Unfortunately, we have now given the world instant Christianity, whereby we believe that we can satisfy the demands of Christ in a once-in-a-lifetime walk down the aisle of a church or pray a little twenty-second prayer of surrender and think that we have fulfilled the calling of Jesus. … As a result, there is no essential difference between ordinary human life and the life of a person who claims to be a Christian.”

Christianity is a calling to the Cross. Today I hear over and over again:

You do you!”

What’s wrong with this? “You do you” is from Satan, not from Jesus. Jesus said:

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

let him deny himself” is certainly not “You do you”. It is the opposite. The Cross is self denial. The Apostle wrote:

Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus endured the cross. The Cross is not a party. It is not comfort. People are not lining up outside of some nightclub to gain entrance to the Cross. Jesus despised the shame. The Cross is shame. It is self denial.

  • The Cross is love “turning the other cheek”. Jesus said, “resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39). When someone hurts you, let the hurt come, and give them another chance. Doesn’t Jesus give us all another chance every day?
  • The Cross is “loving your enemy, doing good to those who did bad to you”. Jesus said, “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”.
  • The Cross is “waiting on God, rather than doing it yourself”. The Apostle said, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. … avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17, 19-21). As Jesus hung on the Cross, suffering, being mocked, He cried out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).
  • The Cross is “rejecting the worldly minded while embracing God’s mind”. The Stepbrother of Christ wrote, “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). The son of Adam does not want to carry the Cross of Christ. When Jesus fell under the burden of the Cross, no one stepped out of the crowd to help Him. Simon of Cyrene was COMPELLED to carry Christ’s Cross. If you must be compelled, dear one, you are not saved. I say again, if you must be COMPELLED to carry the Cross, you are not saved!
  • The Cross is “both a place of death, and a place of life”. Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins. Once dead, He was removed from that Cross, and laid in a tomb. Three days later Jesus resurrected from the grave. The Christian goes to the Cross, dying to self. The old you dies. Rising from the Cross, we then pick up the Cross and follow Jesus forever.
  • The Cross is “where the Christian is bound forever”. Our feet are nailed to the Cross – we only go where Jesus bids us go. Our hands are nailed to the Cross – we only do that which Jesus bids us do.

In the past few years, a number of what are called “High Profile Christians” have renounced their faith, and no longer follow Jesus. Popular Hillsong songwriter Marty Sampson wrote:

I’m genuinely losing my faith… Christians can be the most judgmental people on the planet – they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people… but it’s not for me. I am not in anymore.”

Christian author Joshua Harris wrote:

I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ By all the measurements I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”

Former Pastor of Grace Family Fellowship, Covenant Church, and Cedar Community Church Dave Gass wrote:

After 40 years of being a devout follower, 20 of those being an evangelical pastor, I am walking away from the faith. Even though this has been a massive bomb drop in my life, it has been decades in the making.”

How can such high profile, popular Christians suddenly be Christians? I believe it was because they never carried the Cross. When God spoke of the New Covenant that He would bring through Christ, He said through the Prophets:

Jeremiah 31:31-33 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: … 33 but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

When Jesus gave us the Lord’s Table, He tied His death with the New Covenant when He offered the Cup, saying “This is My blood OF THE NEW TESTAMENT (Covenant), which is shed for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and are supernaturally born again of the Spirit, then God Himself, saving us by the Cross, daily draws us to the Cross. It is as God has said, “I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:16-17). Christians are not “self made”. They are “God made”. They are drawn to the Cross when saved, and carry the Cross after they are saved. One final truth about the Cross:

  • There is only one person to a Cross. When Jesus said “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24), He calls us to individual decisions. No one can carry your Cross. You will not enter Heaven because you had a mother, a father, a grandparent, or anyone else you loved carrying a Cross. You must carry the Cross. If you are saved, you are compelled by your changed heart to carry that Cross.

Do you belong to Jesus? Will you receive Him today to be your Lord and Savior, repenting of your old life, dying on the Cross? May God the Holy Spirit drive the Word of God deeply into your hearts this very day. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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