Take Up your cross
I remember hearing a radio broadcast of Dr. James Dobson. He was retelling a story about his son Ryan who was about three years old at the time. Little Ryan had gotten up early one morning before his Dad and Mom. He managed to climb up onto the kitchen counter using the drawers as steps. Once on the counter little Ryan found his favorite cereal box and began to turn to make his way down. When he did that his pajamas got caught on the handle of the cupboard. The cupboard door swung open and little Ryan was suspended in mid air hanging from the cupboard. His feet dangled unable to get a foothold on the counter below. Dr. Dobson recalls being woken up to the sound of Ryans voice as he heard the words of his son saying â€œsomeone help the boy.
This illustration may help us to see ourselves as Jesus invites us to carry our cross and follow him during this time of Lent.
Some of us start out to do what Jesus calls us to do but using our own strength and plan can get us hung up.
We get hung up with the message of the Gospel when we think that it is something beyond our ability to communicate.
We get hung up by the enormity of the sacrifice that is involved in the work of carrying our cross.
We get hung up on the public perception that carrying our cross reflects.
Our lives like Christs are meant to be a sacrifice for God and for our fellow man especially for those who need salvation from their sins.
But how many of us are there who are truly laying their lives down for our God?
In Isaiah 53 we find what is referred to as a Messianic passage a prophetic passage.
We see in this passage a picture of Jesus some 700 years before he was born. Long before he would take up the cross for you and me Isaiah was inspired by God to write these words about Jesus.
For us they are a real picture of our Savior and they detail the events of Jesus life in such a way that we can not help but view them as prophecy.
Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
My friends, brothers and sisters in Christ we are to be like Jesus we are to be willing to take on the role of a suffering servant. We are to be servants who are willingly and patiently obeying the Fathers appointment.
What has our God appointed you to be?
Have you been appointed a wife and mother?
Have you been appointed a worker and provider for your family?
Whom are you called to serve?
Is it just your own small family or has God called each of us to reach out beyond our own small circle and embrace those outside of it?
We are called to serve our Heavenly Father just as Jesus Gods own son was chosen to be our suffering servant.
What is the cross that you are to carry?
We are not called to carry the burden of sin, the shame of our transgression, the guilt of our disobedience or to publicly display ourselves as a people who are condemned.
We are called to point the way to the one pure and holy sacrifice that has paid it all for all time, He has paid for the sins of our past the sins of our present and has secured for us our eternal future.
Jesus the Lamb of God calls us and invites us to take up with Him this cross that is the Gospel the Good News and we are to share it with the world around us that they might know that our God loves us and has a way for us to be with Him again in a perfect relationship like the one we first knew in the Garden of Eden before sin entered our world.
Our cross is very different from that of Jesus. Our cross is the banner of Gods love for the whole world. It is not a heavy burden it is not a cross of disgrace but one of glory and praise.
Jesus closes his invitation to us in Mark chapter 8 this way.
35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.
Lent is a time for us to be reminded to let go. Let go of chasing after the things of this world and our own foolish pursuits and to take hold of something far more valuable than what the world offers.
Take hold of the cross of Christ and live a life for God as servants willingly taking on what the Father calls us to carry.
There is no shame in carrying the cross that Jesus calls us to. The shame is that there are so few who will lift it up.
As we begin this time of Lent let us be seen as those who gladly, cheerfully lift up the cross that Jesus asks us to take hold of. Amen