The 5 Bold Moves of Jesus // #4 Taking up Your Cross
We have identified several bold moves, of which we’ll be examining 5, that Jesus made to build His disciple-making movementIn. This post we continue this short series of 5 bold moves that we have identified in the life of Christ as he built his disciple-making movement and multiplied Kingdom impact. In past posts we looked at the first 3:
Bold Move #1– Change of Geography (Matthew 4:13-16)
Bold Move #2: Going to the Other Side (Mark 4:35-5:20)
Bold Move #3: Investing in a Few
Bold Move #4: The Bold Move of Life Loss / Taking Up Your Cross (Matthew 16:13-28)
First thing every morning when I sit in my favorite chair, mug of coffee in hand, I pick up my Bible and the first thing I see is a cross on its cover. It was the cover that enticed me to buy this specific Bible. As I sit in my chair enjoying my coffee and reading, my wife sits in her favourite place on the couch doing the same. Some days she’s wearing a classy, rose gold colored cross around her neck, other days it’s a larger silver one. If I look above and behind my wife, I’ll see a decorative cross hanging on the wall beside the fireplace.
These crosses serve as a good reminder.
I’m reminded of Christ’s great sacrifice for me, my family, my friends.
I’m reminded of His love for all of humanity that reaches out to all regions of the world.
I’m reminded of freedom and forgiveness of my sins and abundant life here on earth.
To us the cross symbolizes free, abundant, everlasting life, but it meant something quite different in Christ’s day. To his followers, his disciples, a cross represented death. A brutal, torturous, agonizing death, saved for criminals. They would be forced by Roman soldiers to carry their cross to the place of their execution. In Christ’s day a cross was only understood as an instrument of death.
In Matthew 16:13-28 Christ speaks of taking up our cross.
Let’s take a look.
We find Christ and his disciples in the region of Caesarea Philippi where Christ is once again asking his disciples some significant questions.
“Who do people say that I am?” (Matt 16:13) and then more personally “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt 16:15).
Peter’s answer to the second, “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God” allows Christ to remind them that Peter and the others will be used by God to build his church throughout the world. (Matt 16:17-19)
Christ then goes on to tell them that he’ll be traveling to Jerusalem to suffer at the hands of the religious leaders. He’ll be put to death. And then on the third day be raised to life. (Matt 16:21).
Following some protective push back from Peter and a corresponding seemingly harsh rebuke from Christ we arrive at these bold words:
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?’”Matt 16:24-26
According to Christ, a call to discipleship demands a willingness to sacrifice, and Christ doesn’t sugar-coat this aspect of the call. Not only was Christ going to suffer and be put to death, but his disciples would have to be ready for the same kind of treatment. His disciples would need to be willing to follow him even if it led to suffering, persecution, and ultimately death. His disciples are to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him.
We read of and hear a lot of talk in our churches today about the discipleship pathway. It’s often found posted on church websites or written out and displayed on a prominent wall, so that all who see it know the next steps to growing in their spiritual lives. This is all good and important. As long as we realize that according to Christ any discipleship pathway needs to include a call to self-denial. It needs to be a path that leads to the cross. A death to self. A crucifixion of any self centered desires, selfish goals and ambitions. It’s a path that leads to being crucified with Christ in a way that it’s no longer I who live but Christ living in and through me (Galatians 2:20).
Bonhoeffer stated it like this. “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”
After all, Christ the Son of God, the Creator of the Universe was willing to humble himself by becoming one of us and loving us even to the point of literally dying on a cross for my salvation.
You and I most probably will never be asked to physically die for Christ. But we have been asked to die to self.
At Sonlife we are committed to making disciples who make disciples. Of course, that means challenging those we serve with Christ’s bold directive to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him.
Some questions I’ve been asking myself:
- What would it take for me to completely die to self?
- Can I say along with Paul that it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me?
- What does it mean to me that to gain true life I need to be willing to first lose my life?
- As I seek to make disciples am I communicating a cheap, easy discipleship pathway or am I willing to make the bold move of calling people to self-denial and death to self so that they can find true life?
Although all this can be a struggle the good news is that it is worth it!
“Whoever loses his life for Christ will find it!” (Matt 16:25) As Paul looked beyond the suffering to resurrection and Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before him, we as disciples must not underestimate what will be gained in dying to ourselves.
Let’s ask Gods Spirit to help us make the bold move of life loss. Denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following him.
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