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A CROSS TO BEAR




I want to cast your mind back to a Friday 2000 years ago. This Friday was significant because it was the Jewish Passover, and it was the Friday where Jesus Christ the Son of God would lay down His life on the cross for our sins.

 

The cross, which was constructed by man but ordained by God

 

If it was a headline today it would read

 

‘Man who claims to be the son of God has been sentenced to death by crucifixion’

 

The journey began with Jesus carrying the cross after being stripped, beaten, mocked and humiliated.  The weight of the cross weighed 165lbs was three or four metres high and weighed heavily upon his beaten body. 

 

Being forced to carry the cross you were to be hung upon was part of the Roman punishment of crucifixion. 

 

Jesus who was innocent of any crimes was sentenced to a criminal’s death. Yet it was for the guilty he would die (for you and for me) to pay the price for our wrongs so we could go free.

 

Jesus was led along the old dusty winding Via Dolorosa, the road better known as the way of suffering, the route from the old city of Jerusalem to the Hill of Golgotha where He would give up His final breath.

 

As He was led along the road Jesus struggled to carry the cross, having been whipped, scourged, and beaten beyond recognition

 

Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear Jesus' cross. Mark 15:21

 

It was the right of the roman soldiers to call on citizens to carry their bags, or equipment or anything else for a mile.

 

We see in this instance the soldiers chose Simon to help carry Jesus’ cross when he was too faint and weak to go on.

 

Jesus who also called His disciples to go the extra mile in Matt 5:42 is also our perfect example of one going the extra mile as He determined that no matter what opposition and challenges, he faced that He fulfil His mission to the cross for our salvation.

 

The fact that a passer-by was brought in to carry the cross reminds us that the crucifixion was very much a public spectacle and a brutal way of shaming and executing those who had been condemned. 

 

As one passing by he is drawn into the very heart of this gospel story; it must have been a shocking and fearful moment as he was singled out to pick up and carry the cross. 

 

Perhaps you are a passing by today, and you have never truly opened yourself up to Jesus and committed yourself to following Him.

 

And Like Simon there may be some today that are challenged to take up their cross and follow Jesus.

 

When Simon picked up Jesus’ cross, he would have felt the heavy load that Jesus had been carrying.

 

The cross, which was smeared with fresh blood from the wounds of Jesus; the blood that was prophesied to be shed for the forgiveness of our sins had left its mark on Simon.

 

Yet both the cross and the blood carried a weight and a significance that Simon could never carry.

 

When Jesus allowed himself to die upon the cross Jesus carried the weight and bore the burden of all our sins; past present and future that we could be made right with God and live a new life in the power of Gods spirit. This is the glorious and life-giving truth of why Jesus had to go to the cross.

 

It is on the road to the cross we see Jesus’ suffering and are reminded He is not only God Immanuel, God with us, He is a God who identifies with our suffering and who demonstrates incredible humility as He receives help to carry His cross.

 

Likewise, His humanity is a reminder that we in our mortality and flesh alone are weak and fragile and in need of His help. 

 

Just like Jesus we too, often need the help of others at times when it comes to carrying our burdens and the load becomes heavy; yet we are reminded when we are yoked to Christ and other believers we can be strengthened for the journey; we are calle to bear one another’s burdens and in doing so we fulfil the law of Christ.

 

You are not called to walk the journey alone.

 

BUT

 

Jesus reminds us today, if any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your own life you will lose it, but if you give up your life for my sake you will find it.  Luke 9:23-24

 

The fact that Simon was walking behind Jesus depicts what it looks like to carry the cross what it looks like to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

 

Only in Simon’s case he had first-hand experience of witnessing and sharing in the shame, disgrace, humiliation, jeers, and tears and some of the painful ordeal Jesus faced on His journey to the cross where His suffering would eventually produce the ultimate victory and glory. 

 

The road to the cross can be challenging as the cross is the ultimate symbol of death, life, sacrifice and obedience.

 

Jesus calls us to follow Him, and in doing so bids us to do come and die, die to our own ways and partake in the life He offers us as we follow Him.

 

There is a way that seems right to man but the end is death, but Jesus said I have come to give you life, and life in all its fullness but to obtain that life we are called to lay down our own.

 

The resurrection power that comes to us through the crucifixion not only raises us to new life in Christ, but it produces power that enables us to live a Christ like life.

 

As Jesus’ followers we are called to surrender to Him daily and forsake our own ways knowing that we too may be humiliated and broken in the process.

 

Today is a time to reflect on those things you need to ruthlessly crucify and put to death that are not producing life that stem from the self-centred and fleshly life, gossip, pride, complaining, greed sexual promiscuity, unclean mindsets.

 

The irony of the cross and crucifixion for the Christian is that death to self, leads to abundant life.

 

Christ who endured the journey to the cross reveals the Glory of God through His suffering, and ultimate victory over death, sin, and the grave.

 

He empowers us to do the same

 

Gal 5:24 Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.

 

It was not easy for Jesus to endure the cross, the torture and painful death, but it was for the love of you and me He gave up His life. 

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever would believe on Him would not perish but have everlasting life.  Not to condemn the world but that the world may be saved.

There could be no greater demonstration of God’s love than to make this incredible sacrifice, and Jesus obedience to the father’s plan was one that even he wrestled with in Gethsemane as he prayed these words if it possible let this cup pass me by, nevertheless not my will but yours be done.

There comes a point for us all when we must choose whether to commit to following Gods hopes and path for our lives.

 

Being in Christ involves a wholehearted commitment and dedication to follow him.

 

The cross is your individual pledge to seek him first putting, away everything else that may distract you from fully committing to Jesus.

 

What is distracting you that resentment and hurt that has led to unforgiveness, maybe it’s a unhealthy relationship, maybe it’s that thing that occupies most of your head space and time, or the wealth and status you have been chasing, that bad habit that is robbing you of your joy and freedom, those things that you consider too important to put Him first place.

 

On the other side of these things is the higher life God calls you too

 

What’s more we may never know what impact our daily obedince will have on others and generations to come. Yet we can be assured that our actions in following Jesus will have a positive outcome and will extend life and meaning to those around us.

 

Who hears the cross calling out to them today to lay down their life in exchange for the new life that comes through the cross.

 

Jesus is calling you to come now to the cross to lay down your burden, what do you still need to lay down today?

 

Jesus bids you come to the cross where you can receive forgiveness, new life and resurrection power to follow him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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