What is life really like for followers of Jesus? In a culture that promotes technologically advanced convenience and comfort, and a brand of Christianity where relevance and righteousness often clash, what does it mean to “carry our cross” both now and in the future?
Discover 6 things we can expect as we follow Jesus On the Way of the Cross…
”And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” Luke 9:22-24, NIV
1) On the way of the cross… People will cheer you. We all love to be cheered on! Beware (See Luke 6:26), most cheer like fickle fans that only do so when their team is winning. However, those on the way of the cross are saved from the need of accolades and applause. Why? Because it is the pleasure of God heard in“Well done, good and faithful servant…” that becomes our reward. Besides, we have a cheering section that is out of this world. (See Hebrews 12:1-3)
2) On the way of the cross… People will question you.
Why? Because the life of a Christ follower calls into question a life lived for self. Jesus asked His followers then and now this question, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9:25) We will be questioned, and will plenty of questions ourselves. However, on the way of the cross we are saved from the need to have all the answers. We follow the One who is the answer… Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (See John 14:6)
3) On the way of the cross… People will betray (& deny) you.
This doesn’t exactly leave us shouting, “Sign me up!” This is hard truth and not a promising prediction. Why? Because it is a hard way to walk. Why would anyone go this way unless it was guaranteed to be worth it? Worse than betrayed, we may just be denied… marginalized as though our existence means nothing.
However, we are never alone. “Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV) On the way of the cross we are saved from the loneliness that marks so many who are surrounded by people and things but never truly belong. Our longing is replaced by a sense of belonging as we walk in the Spirit of Jesus.
4) On the way of the cross… People will accuse you. (See Matthew 5:10-12)
However, Jesus is our vindication. He is our alibi. He is our counselor, defender, payment, who bore our sins. We may be found guilty in the eyes of man, but through Jesus’ sacrifice we are seen as innocent in the eyes of the Heavenly Father. Following Jesus on the way of the cross saves us from the need to be vindicated in the eyes of this world.
5) On the way of the cross… People will mock you. (See Matthew 24:9-14)
Righteousness isn’t always “right” in the eyes of the world and this will only increase in the coming years as our convictions based on God’s Word are seen as intolerant or worse, evil. Jesus saves us on the way of the cross by freeing us from the need to fit in and go the way of the crowd. Suggested read – Bonhoeffer: A Biography by Eric Metaxas.
6) On the way of the cross… People will crucify you. (See John 15:18-24)
All of church history and the recent martyrdom of Christians throughout the Middle attests to this. However, on the way of the cross we are saved from the fear of death. We do well to remember this in the relative light affliction we face in the USA. Ultimately you can’t really kill someone who is already dead and yet, has never been more alive.
What is our response? None… not if we have already beat them to it!
Paul said to followers of Jesus in Galatia, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NIV)
Jesus showed us the way to the cross, so that we could walk the way of the Cross. The deeper truth is that we can’t go the way of the Cross unless we have first been to His Cross and laid all our sin before Him. Then, as we are empowered by His Spirit and guided by His Word, will we have power to walk the way Jesus walked and fulfill the will of the Father for our lives as He did His.
Is it worth it? Jesus encouraged His disciples, “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:29-31, NIV
In the end, those who “take up their cross” will find what Jesus found. Not just the certain travailing on the way of the cross, but abundant life on the other side of the cross! (See John 10:10)
What have you learned about what it means to follow Jesus? Share your thoughts below in the Reply section…