Summary: The 8th in a series going through all Christ endured leading up to the Cross. The series ends Easter Sunday with the Glorious Resurrection
The love of Christ is something that is very difficult to understand. Christ’s love reaches farther than we can imagine. It stretches high above the mountains, through the skies, and is deeper than the oceans. That love is for each person in the world. From the most hardened criminal to the mother Theresa. We have been discussing all that Christ endured for the world. He suffered and died so that all who believe would have eternal life. Through His love Jesus was willing to suffer and show us the example of His own words spoken earlier in His ministry. After Jesus had suffered tremendously through beatings, mocking, and humiliation the suffering continued. He was weak from all that he had endured and now was to do one more thing- carry His cross.
Read John 19:17
Now we know that Jesus was too weak to carry His cross all the way to Golgotha. While they were going a man named Simon was compelled to carry Jesus’ cross. He wasn’t given a choice. The compelling is the idea of being made to do. According to early church tradition, Simon later became a Christian. Simon learned first hand what it meant to be a disciple. We learn about being a disciple from what Jesus taught in Mark 8:34-38.
Read Mark 8:34-38- there are 4 requirements to being a disciple.
I. Must Have a Desire to Follow.
Whoever desires to come after me... This means anyone wanting to follow. Following involves a conscious willful decision. This is following Him out of desire and not because this is what you are supposed to do for church or mom and dad. There is a commitment that is involved. We must follow after those desires.
Jesus goes on in Mark 8 to say that if anyone desires to save His life he will lose it, but whoever desires to lose his life for Christ, will save it.
The word desire comes once again. What do you desire? Jesus was telling the disciples that anyone who truly wanted to follow Him would have to give some things up, but in the end would gain eternal life. Following Christ is not something that is easy. We begin by giving up little things that we want, our fleshly desires, and begin to replace those things with godly desires. Before long godly desires are what we want the most and we find ourselves giving up more and more of the world.
when we give our lives to Christ, we lose our earthly life to Him, and gain eternal life.
II. There must be Self-denial.
If you think back to that day when Christ was struggling to carry His cross. There was a great deal of self-denial for Him. We have God in the flesh being punished for nothing according to man’s standards. Jesus could have called down the angels to rescue Him, He didn’t. He could have called the earth to swallow up these people, He didn’t. He could have decided He was finished and went to heaven, but He didn’t. Christ showed us what He meant when He said that a man must deny himself. Jesus temporarily denied His authority as God so he could suffer and die for humanity. He was willing to humble himself.
Simon must have experienced this. Although he was compelled by the Romans, he still had a choice. He might have been killed, but he had a choice. Simon had done nothing to deserve sharing this burden with Christ. He had to put himself aside, and carry the cross of Christ.
Do we really understand what it means to deny ourselves? Denying self of doing things that are wrong, doing without certain material possessions. Others are looking to us for the example. Do they see Christ in our lives? We must be willing to give up all for the sake of Christ.
III. We must Take up Our Cross.
Jesus carried His cross to the place where He was crucified. He gave up His position as King of Kings so that He could pay the price for the sin of the world. He gave the example of what it means to take up one’s cross.
Many assume that taking the cross is personal burdens we have to carry. That concept brings the focus on self and what self is doing. “ Look at what I’m doing or doing without”. It makes it about me and all I am doing for Christ.
The Cross, is an emblem of a death. The cross was the place of Christ’s death. It also represented our death as he died for each one of us. Taking up the cross in essence is dying to self, Daily. It is the putting to death the me, and making everything about Him. Are you willing to take up your cross? It is not easy to do. There is great sacrifice involved. Jesus said whoever will lose his life for the sake of Christ will save it. That is placing Christ first and self last. That is letting God have control of my desires and want to’s and following His desires. That is what it means to take up our cross.