Summary: what does it mean to pick up our cross and follow Him...FOLLOWING MEANS LITERALLY, FIGURATIVELY AND PHYSICALLY LEAVING EVERYTHING AND FOLLOW HIM, JUST LIKE THE DISCIPLES.
GOD’S PROVISION IS LOCATED IN THE PLACE HE SENDS YOU TO… HOWEVER HIS PROVISION ONLY FOLLOWS OBEDIENCE.
We find ourselves living in a day and age where people have made idols of different things without even knowing that they are doing it. Anything that you love more than God becomes an idol. We worship many different gods.
- the god of comfort and ease
- the god of self
- the god of convenience
- the god of material possessions
and the list goes on and on, things that take up your time, yet God is saying ‘I must have first place in your life’
so, friends come along, start with stuff, come with, follow us, it will be fun, no worries
then trouble… you get the blame.
Let us read from:
38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
It is amazing to note that in the first four books of the new testament ‘Follow Me’ is mentioned 20 times
So, let us go on a journey, let us pick up our cross, let us follow Him…
Let me have a volunteer, come pick up this cross (large wooden cross in the front) across your shoulders and walk, should we be walking around with a cross on our shoulders or is it more than that? Not easy.
Now I think not, listen it started in the garden of Gethsemane, JESUS, when in agony and prayer, His sweat became as drops of blood, this process along can make one weak and in shock, then arrested in the middle of the night, stood at a trial, hit in the face by a soldier. Blindfolded, mocked, spat on, struck numerous times in the face.
The next morning, JESUS, (now you can just imagine) battered, bruised, dehydrated, exhausted was then taken before the Roman Big-shot Pilate.
Condemned to scouring and crucifixion, He was striped of His clothing, His hands tied to a post above His head. The flagrum whip brought down with full force again and again across his shoulders, back and legs.
At first it cuts through the skin only, then it cuts deeper, producing blood from the veins under the skin, then arterial bleeding from the vessels in the underlying muscles, large deep bruises broken open.
Finally, the skin is hanging and is an unrecognizable mass of torn bleeding tissue.
He was then untied, covered with a robe mocking him as a King, a small bundle of branches with long thorns is pressed into His scalp, making the blood run rivers down His face. Finally, they tire, pull the robe from his back (which was probably stuck to the open wounds causing more pain and fresh bleeding, it should be finished now but wait there is more…
The heavy beam of the cross is tied across His shoulders then he must walk, the weight together with the blood loss and shock is too much, He stubble and falls, the wood rubbing His open wounds.
At Golgotha, the beam was placed on the ground, JESUS is thrown or pushed backwards with His shoulders against the wood. The soldier drives a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood, he then moves to the other arm and does the same, why not together?
The beam is then lifted in place at the top of the posts. The sign ‘King of the Jews” nailed in place. His left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of both into the wood. Pain!!!!!!! (nerves, bones?)
As the arms get tired, waves of cramps crowd the muscles, knotting them in pain, cannot push down or pull upwards to relieve the pain, battles to breathe properly for hours, this goes on and on, the lungs fill up with serum and presses the heart, causing the heart to fail, and breathes out His last…
Yet JESUS says… follow me.
Now after hearing that I wonder what is our cross, what causes our afflictions, our hurts, pains if we do not look after it, what causes us not to worship Him…
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.
Is it not our bodies?... Think about it… headaches keep people away.
To pick up our cross, firstly it means self-denial, (we must deny the pleasures of the flesh and settle for God’s will over our lives)
To pick up our cross, secondly it means torture, any great achievement means torture. (athletes torture their bodies; thinkers torture their minds)