Thoughts to Ponder

(Luke 9:23 NIV) Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

What is your cross?

I am sure you have heard people say things like: "I guess that is my cross to bear." They may be talking about an unsaved spouse or a troubled child or a physical affliction. They are trying to say that what Jesus meant was that we have earthly problems that we are to bear without complaint because God has given them to us.

Now I do believe that God sometimes gives us challenges to help us grow in our faith and help us to lean on Him. However, I contend that is not what Jesus was talking about. We are too quick to replace the word cross with burden. That is our 'burden' to bear. But if Jesus was speaking about a burden what word would He have used? My guess is He would have said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his yoke daily and follow me." But that is not what He said, He used the word cross.

What was a cross in Jesus' day? It was a instrument of capital punishment. So He could have said; take up his electric chair, or his lethal injection bed, or his hangman's noose. Now if you replace the word cross with one of those modern day instruments of capital punishment does it change the way you view the verse? It does for me.

I purposely did not quote the whole passage above. Here is the passage including the next two verses: (Luke 9:23-25 NIV) Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. {24} For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. {25} What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? Here is another reference to the same thing: (Luke 14:27 NIV) And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Notice that Jesus mentions a person losing and saving his life?

Before I go on ask yourself this question, if you were to reject Christ as your savior would all your problems be over? Would your spouse no longer be a problem, would your troubled child be cured, would your physical affliction go away? That is not to say there are not burdens we bear because we are Christians, but I don't think we view what Jesus was saying in the right light.

I believe if we use modern capital punishment to reflect what He was saying we will see that He was saying every day when we get up we should die to ourselves and live in Him. No one who lives for himself or herself can be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. I have often heard our old sinful nature referred to as the Old Man. If we refuse to crucify (hang, electrocute, give a lethal injection to) the Old Man, then we cannot become a new creation in Christ. You can't have two natures, the old sinful one and the new righteous nature of Christ. If you refuse to give up to death the old nature you will remain in the same state you started out in. You will never grow to be a true disciple of Christ. So take up your electric chair each day and follow Christ.

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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