These verses are on my heart lately..
"And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake, shall find it." Matt. 10:38,39.
Jesus said "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it." Matt. 16:24,25.
And He (Jesus) was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." Luke 9:23.
Not that long ago, whenever I heard this message, I would feel a heaviness and I would somehow try to avoid thinking about it! It felt like an unnecessary burden, a yoke that wasn’t what Jesus promised when He said “My yoke is easy and My burden is light”..
Today, as I am reading these verses I am surprised to find that I actually love and welcome each word! They are like sweeter than honey and the honeycomb!!
So, I have just been pondering as what has caused me to feel so differently about the same passages?
The first thing is that I KNOW, in a much deeper way than ever did before, is His indescribable love for me! I have a new appreciation of the cross that Jesus carried and a fresh realisation that IT WAS MINE!! How overwhelming – that the creator of the universe and the creator of me should willingly substitute Himself for ME and bear MY CROSS!!
As I read these verses now I am beginning to see that ‘taking up my cross’ simply means to acknowledge that it was “my” cross originally. The reality is that “I” was the one deserving to be punished for the many ways that I crucified Him - by my petty denials and rejection of Him for so many years. I also realise that, in response, I just simply have to “receive” His grace and goodness by accepting the truth that He chose to carry the cross for me and receive in His body the righteous judgement due to me.
As I embrace this glorious truth, I feel “drawn” to follow Jesus and grow as His disciple! – not out of a sense of duty in order to be blessed, nor from a pressure to keep my place in heaven. I now pursue Him, because I love Him.. because my heart keeps responding to His ever flowing goodness and love.. I have already been blessed with every spiritual blessing.. (Eph 1:3). I have been sealed with His Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13), and nothing can ever separate me from the love of God.. ever! (Rom 8:38), no, no created thing! (that includes me!)
That is the meaning of Jesus' statement to me today "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it."
So when I read this again I don’t see that He means that I have to bear a heavy burden.. That I have to walk around in this life with the burden of having to continually do what He has already done for me!!. My heart cries out that this is not what He meant by "cross"!
I think when Jesus was on the earth in the flesh He had on His mind the knowledge of the way His fleshly life would end, separated from God the Father, with His body nailed to a rugged wooden cross on which He would be tortured and die for sins not His own!I must understand that the "cross" that He bore was not His own. IT WAS MINE! It was the horrible symbol of the future that Satan had in mind for ME, the symbol of the judgement for MY SINS! And Jesus willingly substituted Himself for ME and bore MY CROSS!
If my judgement of death on my cross is to be cancelled in the substitutionary death of Jesus on my cross, I must take up my cross; that is, I must acknowledge my cross which is the righteous judgement against me, and I must pursue Jesus as His disciple!
That is what I believe Jesus means when He says .. "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it."
In Romans Paul pleads to present our bodies as living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is our reasonable service..
Reasonable! Oh I believe that once we begin to realise and see with new eyes the depth of what Christ Jesus did for us we respond with our whole heart to Him and declare out loud, NOT MY WILL BUT YOURS BE DONE!!!
Oh for God to reveal this truth to us! I pray for Him to help us with unbelief in His finished work and to walk in light of His truth, in the Spirit of God who dwells in our hearts.. and to allow our minds to be transformed by renewing them with His truth!!
In His Love,
Mary :-) xxx