Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[soul] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Yesterday we looked at Scripture telling us He loves us as we are. How wide, how high, how deep is His love. Creating us to be uniquely ourselves.
Today we are looking at self-denial leading to Heaven ~ His Kingdom. Suffering is just Not my favorite part of loving the Lord. We had an excellent sermon guest last week, a Baptist Pastor who cried when he spoke of Peter saying crucify me upside down, not as my Lord. And that sight will melt your heart & remind you just how seriously the men who followed the Lord were willing to go.
We will Sing of the Saints of God and I want to be one too, but this is not my favorite verse and I want to tackle this.
Usually my reaction to this verse it to hope, with prayer, a cross is Not required of me. One of the phrases I think about when integrity and determination is required of me ~ "When the line is drawn where will I stand." Will I be happy with myself, feeling I've pleased Jesus. Our Hero. Our Savior. I want to do my best for the Lord, however Passion of the Christ is a wonderful, life changing, soul jerking, sadness to see Innocence and Goodness die for me. I watched that at our house with our Couples Class again. And we sat and cried our hearts out. Jack, a wonderful Christian, said something so profound, "How could we watch that, without knowing Easter is coming." We are the Easter people and Alleluia is our song.
We are so cavalier about placing a cross around our necks. God has shaped our world ~ this is victory over death. When Jesus said this He did indeed mean die for our beliefs. In the Early Church, not all chose to die, but to flee, not forgetting to carry the Gospels and New Testament, God spreading His Word in their living determination to please Him.
Jesus turned to Peter, as a lot of disciples left, hearing we were to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Jesus, with His amazing compassion, knows how we react to hard statements. Peter told Jesus, what so many of us know. Jesus has the words of life. And is compassion for the weak.
13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
We are dealing with carrying a cross seriously, not being glib. This is something, if we are honest, we would have to grow into. Peter fled. All the disciples fled. Only John went peacefully into the world knowing he as the beloved disciple had stood for Jesus. Jesus does not ask lightly.
In my entire life, I've only heard one person cling to the verse about carry a cross. And that was a loved one who was dying. And felt equipped for the journey Home. This changed for them from the beginning of the illness, to the hope of redemption. Clinging they said, not to any old cross, But HIS cross. This I understand fully.
One of the reasons we see almost all the disciples willing to give up earthly lives for Him, the deep breathe of forgiveness given to them. Once they tasted peace, they were unwilling to live unforgiven.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
So do we glory in our sufferings? I will tell you this with certainty!!!! I got past those suckers!! There is a Christian song out there saying You trust me in my problems to look to You. I do believe the Lord could say that to me! And the song - "Stronger" ~ you bet, crank that song up LOUDER.
Peter so bravely endured a cross given to Him, but Peter's hope was and is Jesus. Who does not want to be seen as being loving. We expect this in Jesus, not calling Him fierce and determined saying He has these beautiful attributes.
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
1 Chronicles 29:17
I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you.
Father God, I'd be dishonest to say - let me have a cross to carry.