Summary: What does it mean to "take up" or "bear" your cross? What does the Bible teach abou "cross-bearing"? (Powerpoint Available - #358)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at email@example.com and request #358.)
This morning I want us to look at a verse of Scripture, Mark 8:34. "Then Jesus called the crowd to Him along with His disciples & said: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself & take up his cross & follow me.
Most of you are familiar with this verse. But when Jesus talks about us denying ourselves & taking up a cross & following Him – what does that mean?
Well, we’ll discuss that in just a few moments. But before we do, I believe that we ought to realize 2 things about Jesus.
A. First of all, there is the startling honesty of Jesus. Following Jesus is not easy! And He never sought to lure people to Him by the offer of an easy way.
ILL. In the early days of WW2, when Winston Churchill took over the leadership of England, all that he offered his people was "blood, sweat & tears." And that is very much like what Jesus offers to His followers, too.
B. Secondly, Jesus never calls upon us to do anything that He was not willing to do Himself. What He asks us to face, He has already faced. And when He calls upon us to take up a cross, He, Himself, has already borne one for us.
That goes against the grain of what the world teaches. The world teaches that anything that bothers us or becomes difficult, we should avoid.
And yet, the words of Jesus are still there, "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself & take up his cross & follow me."
PROP. What did He mean? What does it mean to "take up" or "bear a cross”? What does the Bible teach about "cross-bearing?"
I. CROSS-BEARING IS ALWAYS VOLUNTARY
First of all, the Bible tells us that "taking up a cross" is voluntary. Jesus calls & challenges us, but it is our decision. Taking up a cross & following Jesus is voluntary.
But I’m afraid that generally we’re pretty careless in the way we talk about our “cross-bearing.”
ILL. For example, suppose that after extensive testing the doctor tells me, "I'm sorry, but you have diabetes, & you'll have to deal with it for the rest of your life."
Now that may be a burden that I must bear, but it is not a cross I have taken up for Jesus. So I can't then tell others, "Well, that's my cross to bear," because I didn't volunteer for it.
Or if a tornado sweeps through our area & destroys my home, I can't call it "a cross I have to bear," because I didn't volunteer for that either. It is not something that I chose to do for Jesus.
SUM. You see, if I talk about bearing a cross, that means I am voluntarily taking it up for Jesus. I'm going to enlist, to offer myself in some way to serve Jesus.
II. CROSS-BEARING IS AN ACT OF LOVE
A. So, cross?bearing is not an accident that happens to us, or something unavoidable that we must face. Cross-bearing is an act of love that we choose to do. It is a task that we undertake, a price that we pay, out of love for Him.
For Jesus it meant going to a cross to die because He loved us so much.
It means reaching out to people who are unlovable & unlovely & who may never return the love. And yet we are to keep on loving because that's what Jesus did.
B. You want to read a description of what it means to carry a cross? Turn over to 1 Corinthians 13. Listen as I begin reading in vs. 4, & I want to change the word "love" & put the word "cross-bearer" in its place.
"A cross-bearer is patient. A cross-bearer is kind. A cross-bearer does not envy. A cross-bearer does not boast. A cross-bearer is not arrogant or rude. A cross-bearer is not self-seeking.
“A cross-bearer is not easily angered, nor keeps records of wrongs. He does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. A cross-bearer always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
ILL. Dr. Paul Brand told about his father who went as a missionary to India. For years his father saw almost no converts, due primarily to a Hindu priest who warned the people that if they listened to the Christians their cattle would die.
Sure enough, the cattle of those who came to the Christian chapel did die, but only because the priest poisoned them! As a result, almost no one would listen to the gospel. Discouraged, Brand’s father at times doubted his calling.