THE RIGHT CROSS TO TAKE UP DAILY (Part 1)￼
“Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13 NKJV)
The Lord Jesus is certainly not expecting anyone to take up daily a replica of the wooden vertical stake on which He was crucified as his cross.
The Lord Jesus surely does not command anyone to bear or wear the cross daily as a religious emblem or as a physical ornament, adornment, or jewelry on his body to follow Him.
Moreover, the Lord Jesus has not called or given anyone to bear, embrace, or endure sickness, infirmity, failure, poverty, temperamental weakness, or negative emotion as his cross.
These are the works of the devil. The Scripture clearly states that the Lord Jesus came into the world to destroy all the devil’s works and deliver us from them all (1 John 3:8).
Sadly, many zealous but ignorant believers today are bearing, embracing, and enduring daily the works of the devil (sickness, infirmity, poverty, oppression, affliction, failure, etc.) as their crosses and even rejoicing in them.
Having carefully examined the wrong cross that the born-again believers must not take up daily in our last piece, let us now consider the right cross that the Lord Jesus commands and expects us to take up daily to follow Him.
First, the cross is a choice:
The cross is not anything forced upon you without your permission or cooperation. But it is something you personally, voluntarily, and deliberately choose to bear, take up, endure, or experience for the sake of Christ.
If it is forced upon you, it is no longer your cross!
Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV).
It is you that must take up your cross willingly or voluntarily!
The Lord Jesus was not forced either by His Father or any man to bear His cross and die on it. He personally and deliberately chose to suffer and die for our sins, not out of pity or a sense of obligation, but out of His selfless and pure love for us.
The Scripture attests to this truth.
John 10:17-18 – NKJV
17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.
18 “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
While Apostle Paul was staying in the house of Philip, the evangelist, the Holy Spirit through Prophet Agabus revealed and described to Paul the cross (the suffering or persecution) awaiting him in Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-11).
On hearing this prophecy, all the brethren around Paul pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem so that he might evade his cross. But what was Paul’s response?
The Scripture reports, “Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13 NKJV).
Paul had a choice in this situation. He could choose not to go up to Jerusalem and thus evade persecution. But Paul chose willingly or voluntarily to embrace suffering, persecution, imprisonment, and death so that he could finish his race and the ministry he had received from the Lord Jesus (Acts 20:24).
Paul took up his cross willingly; nobody forced it upon him!
Taking up your cross speaks of your unwavering decision, fixed resolution, and strong determination to obey the Lord and do His will wholeheartedly, eagerly, and gladly notwithstanding the outcomes or consequences of your choice.
God didn’t force the cross on His Son or any early disciples and apostles. You should, therefore, not expect God to force your cross upon you. You are the one to choose whether or not to take up your cross.
The cross is a choice; you can either take it up or evade it through compromise or conformity with the world.
You will always have to choose either to be separate from the world and thus face hatred and persecution from the world, or compromise and conform to the world and thus escape hatred and persecution (John 15:18-19 NKJV).
Second, the cross implies submission:
The gospel without the cross is without any power to save any soul. The gospel is the message of the cross (1 Cor. 1:18).
The way of salvation is the way of the cross, for it was the cross that paved the way for us to be reconciled to God. The cross is God’s plan, process, or method for our salvation!
While the Lord Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, His flesh protested passionately three times against drinking the cup of trembling and fury for our sins. Still, three times the Lord released and submitted Himself to His Father’s plan, process, and will to redeem us, which is to taste death for every man on the cross.
The Scripture records, “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt. 26:39 NKJV).
Bearing the cross is perfect submission to God’s plan, process, will, and way despite the protest of the flesh.
It implies a willingness to embrace with joy whatever comes out of your complete submission or obedience to the Lord and out of your pursuit of the ministry you have received from the Lord (Acts 20:22-24).
You are not yet ready to be a disciple of Christ if you are only willing to gladly and eagerly obey or submit to God’s will when you know the outcomes will be excellent and beneficial to you.
Third, the cross speaks of sacrifice:
God’s redemption plan is incomplete without a sacrifice for our sins. God’s righteousness and justice demand that He fully punish every transgressor of His Law. We all are transgressors of God’s law and thus deserve to receive the wages of sin (death).
However, God’s love and mercy prepared a perfect substitute for us as a propitiation or atoning sacrifice for our sins. The cross was the altar where the Lamb of God, Christ Jesus, was slaughtered and offered as a sacrifice for our sins (John 1:29, 36, Heb. 10:10-14, 1 John 2:2).
While the cross was the place of ultimate sacrifice, the Lord’s journey to the cross was full of unimaginable sacrifices from the very start. Although the Lord Jesus was fully God in every form, He emptied Himself of His attributes, privileges, and glories as God (Philip. 2:7-9).
We might never be able to conceive or imagine all that Jesus sacrificed for our redemption until we reach heaven.
Nobody can be a disciple of Christ without imbibing or learning the art of sacrificing. It starts with you presenting yourself daily as a living sacrifice unto the Lord for Him to do with your life as it pleases Him (Rom. 12:1-2).
Taking up your cross daily implies a willingness to sacrifice all, including your physical life, if need be, for the sake of Christ!
If there is anything that you hold so dear to your heart that you cannot sacrifice or give up for the sake of Christ and the gospel, then you are not yet ready to be a disciple of Christ.
The early Disciples of Christ gave up all, including their physical lives, for the sake of Christ and the ministry they had received from the Lord (Mark 10:28-30, Luke 5:5-11, 27-28, Philipp. 3:7-8).
That is what you also are called and expected to do!
Fourth, the cross denotes death:
The cross is symbolic of death. Anyone seen bearing his cross was already condemned to death by the Roman authority in those days.
Even now, wherever you see the cross, whether on a piece of land or the pages of the newspaper, you first think of death, for it is often used to mark that death has occurred.
The cross is evidence of death. The fruit you bear that reveals or shows to the world that you are indeed crucified with Christ.
Is there any fruit in your life that genuinely validates your claim that you have been crucified with Christ?
If not, you are not bearing your cross daily!
Much more than being a symbol, mark, or evidence of death, the cross is also an instrument of death. Natural life is terminated through the cross. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave up His life for us on and through the cross.
Paul testified that he was crucified to the world and the world to him through the means of the cross.
He said, “But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Gal. 6:14 ASV).
The cross is God’s instrument for terminating our sinful and self-life and releasing the supernatural or Christ-life in our mortal body. Your old man or corrupt self was destroyed through the agency of the cross (Rom. 6:6).
If there is no death, there can be no resurrection. The end of the old man marks the beginning of the new man. The end of self-life marks the beginning of the Christ-life. Therefore, you cannot experience or walk in the newness of life without first experiencing death through the cross (Rom. 6:4, 7:4-5).
Bearing the cross daily is reckoning yourself to be dead daily to sin, self, and the world, but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:11).
It is walking in the revelation that you are no longer a debtor to the flesh to obey or gratify its passions, lusts, dictates, and desires. It is learning to deny self daily, to say “No” constantly and continuously to the flesh.
While in Gethsemane, the flesh wanted to dictate to the Lord Jesus, but He refused. The flesh prompted Him to rebel against His Father’s will three times, but the Lord ignored the flesh constantly until the flesh was subdued. Having subdued the flesh, the Lord Jesus arose in victory to accomplish His mission on earth (Matt. 26:37-46).
That is what it means to take up your cross daily!
You must never get tired of saying “No” to the flesh and saying “Yes” to the Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus said you must bear or take up your cross daily, always, or constantly.
Beloved, manifesting Christ-life is impossible when the self-life has not been terminated and abolished through the cross. These two kinds of life are parallel; you cannot experience or express both simultaneously.
It is only as you daily reckon, consider or regard yourself as being dead to sin, the flesh, and the world, but alive to God in Christ that Christ can live, work and manifest Himself in and through you (Rom. 6:11, Gal. 2:20).
Until you truly see yourself as dead with Christ, you cannot see yourself as one who is resurrected with Christ and alive with Him.
You have to see, know and understand that you are no longer a debtor to the flesh before you can be bold to say “No” to the flesh whenever it tries to dictate to you, influence, direct, or control you (Rom. 8:12-13).
Find out more about the cross you are expected to bear daily in the following piece!
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for terminating my sinful and self-life on the cross. My Dear Holy Spirit, teach and help me to allow the cross to work daily in my life so that I may daily manifest the supernatural life (Christ-life) in this world, in Jesus’ name. Amen