Let’s begin with what Jesus didn’t mean.
Many people interpret “cross” as some burden
they must carry in their lives:
a strained relationship, a thankless job, a physical illness.
With self-pitying pride, they say, “That’s my cross I have to carry.” Such an interpretation is not what Jesus meant when He said,
"Take up your cross and follow Me.”
When Jesus carried His cross up Golgotha to be crucified,
no one was thinking of the cross as symbolic of a burden to carry.
To a person in the first-century,
the cross meant one thing and one thing only:
death by the most painful and humiliating means
human beings could develop.
Two thousand years later, Christians view the cross as a cherished symbol of atonement, forgiveness, grace, and love.
But in Jesus’ day,
the cross represented nothing but torturous death. Because the Romans forced convicted criminals to carry their own crosses to the place of crucifixion, bearing a cross meant carrying their own execution device
while facing ridicule along the way to death.
"Take up your cross and follow Me”
means being willing to die in order to follow Jesus.
This is called “dying to self.” It’s a call to absolute surrender.
After each time Jesus commanded cross bearing, He said,
"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:24-25).
Although the call is tough, the reward is matchless.
Wherever Jesus went, He drew crowds.
Although these multitudes often followed Him as Messiah,
their view of who the Messiah really was—and what
He would do—was distorted.
Many of the shocked followers rejected Him.
Truly, they were not able to put to death
their own ideas, plans, and desires,
and exchange them for His.
Following Jesus is easy when life runs smoothly; our true commitment to Him is revealed during trials. Jesus assured us that trials will come to His followers (John 16:33).
Discipleship demands sacrifice,
Jesus never hid that cost.
In Luke 9:57-62, three people seemed willing to follow Jesus. When Jesus questioned them further, their commitment was half-hearted at best. They failed to count the cost of following Him. None was willing to take up his cross and crucify upon it his own interests.
Therefore, Jesus appeared to dissuade them. How different from the typical Gospel presentation! How many people would respond to an altar call that went, “Come follow Jesus, and you may face the loss of friends, family, reputation, career, and possibly even your life”? The number of false converts would likely decrease! Such a call is what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”
If you wonder if you are ready to take up your cross,
consider these questions:
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing some of your closest friends?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means alienation from your family?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means the loss of your reputation?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your job?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your life?
In some places of the world, these consequences are reality.
But notice the questions are phrased,
“Are you willing?”
Following Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean all these things will happen to you, but are you willing to take up your cross?
If there comes a point in your life where you are faced with a choice—Jesus or the comforts of this life—which will you choose?
Commitment to Christ means taking up your cross daily,
giving up your hopes, dreams, possessions, even your very life if need be for the cause of Christ. Only if you willingly take up
your cross may you be called His disciple (Luke 14:27).
The reward is worth the price.
''The Water of Life comes through the relationship with the living god -through- his personal communication- the
Ongoing, evolving, revealing, living Word of God
The greatest purpose of Scripture after redemption and relationship is to Reveal, Discover, and discern the Holy Spirit's
Evolving revelation and how it applies to the work of Christ and his saints
The Bread of Life is the Substance of the depth and
knowledge and Wisdom of the Word.
God is not counting the number of those who profess a word phrase to do his spiritual work.
The Fish that feeds the thousands is provided by Jesus, and Jesus alone,
not human will, acts of service, or finance
(important, too, not the centrality of the Gospel, a side note)
Faith is produces from Scriptural understanding,
in contrast to "word affirmations."
Saving Grace comes through redemption and Christ relationship, not spoken affirmation. Words need substance and authenticity to produce fruit.
Baptism is a symbol of a greater reality in the Christian life,
the representation of the effects of redemption.
Jesus followed His call of death to self
(“Take up your cross and follow Me”)
with the gift of life in Christ:
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for me will find it”