Summary: The cross reveals the holiness and the sinfulness of man, Christ resurrection is the bud of promise and our resurrection is the flower of fulfillment, so the most rewarding end of life is to know the life that never ends.
Luke 9: 23: “And he said to them all, if any man will come after me let him deny himself and
take up his cross daily and follow me.” There are three things involved in this scripture: if any man will come after Jesus, let him:
1. Deny himself,
2. Take up his cross on daily basis.
3. Follow Jesus.
There is a song that says, “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back. The Cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back, no turning back. Though none goes with me, yet I will follow. No turning back, no turning back.”
One could say that one of the greatest empires ever witnessed was the Roman. In the image of Daniel, it stood for iron. All the military set ups we have now came from the Romans. The house of senate and the house of representatives originated from the Romans. When the Roman soldiers fought, it was with devastating wickedness.
It was the Romans who invented the cross for condemned criminals. It was like our Bar-beach shows, in those days when robbers were tied to the stake and shot dead. When the Romans wanted to crucify somebody on the cross, they did not do so at the centre of the town. No, it was an abomination. They took the person outside the city. In the days of Jesus, there was a place where this kind of thing was carried out in Judea. It was at Golgotha, the Calvary. They took people there and executed them. Anybody who had been condemned to die on the cross had to carry his own cross there. The soldiers would just escort the person with horsewhip. They would never touch the cross themselves. When they led the person out, his family members knew that it was finished. In fact, once death was pronounced, the only person one could appeal to was Caesar. Once Caesar said, “Kill him,” that was it. His voice was like the voice of a god. Immediately a person was nailed to the cross, it was the duty of the soldiers to stay and ensure that he eventually died. Sometimes, when one did not die in time they would break his bone.
Death on the cross was painful and sorrowful. On the cross, the whole body was suspended and pressure was upon the lungs, the heart and other body organs. It was difficult for the victim to breathe because his lungs were compressed. It was a very painful and slow death.
The cross is a very powerful symbol, the central message of Christianity. It was the altar on which the once-and-for-all sacrifice was made by Jesus. It has no mercy for anyone. It does not negotiate with anybody. It has no time for your argument or your religion. No one has gone to the cross and come down alive. It is 100 per cent successful at killing.
One song says, “I have decided to follow Him.” If you want to follow Him, He says, you must first deny yourself. When you have done that, you are going to die on that cross. The cross is not a kind of decoration. You are wasting your time when you hang a cross on your neck, or when you put a big one in your house. The cross is very rough and very deadly but it is very effective in its operation. It is a sign of God’s heartbreak over a world that has gone astray. It is an instrument of death. That is why most obituaries carry its sign. Anyone who has visited a cemetery would see that the tombs have crosses on them. The cross is an instrument of death and a symbol of death. It is a symbol of sacrifice. To take up the cross is to allow yourself to be a living sacrifice unto the Lord. There is no way you will be nailed to the cross and blood will not come out.
Just like the problem of man started with a tree in the Garden of Eden, the solution to the problem of man, too, took place on a tree, on the Cross of Calvary. On that Cross God made Himself medicine and drank it. So, the cross is the terminating point of our adamic nature. It is the end of all the corruption of self. When you want to start a new life in God, the cross is the starting point. The gateway to enjoying life in the heavenlies is the cross. The deep secret is that the cross releases power to anyone who gets there.
Many of us are crying for power. We say, “O Lord, empower me. I want to do mighty things for You.” The Lord is saying, “Okay, I am ready to empower you. Come now, get on the cross and die there.” You now say, “But Lord, I don’t want to die yet.” He says, “Then you don’t need the power. You are not yet qualified.”