About Jesus - Steve Sweetman

Home Page

A Cross Carrying Community  

Soon after Jesus fed a huge crowd of people He asked His disciples who the crowds thought He was (Luke 9:18).  I can't be sure, but Jesus might have asked this question to distinguish crowds from disciples.  Crowds are fans and fans can be fickle.  They followed Jesus for what they could get from Him.  Disciples were to be determined and dedicated.  They were to deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Jesus every day (Luke 9:23). 


Luke 9:23 gets little press in our western, self-seeking, Christian culture.  We don't like being told to deny self.  Our consumer driven society endlessly entices us to grab anything and everything this world has to offer.  We then rent storage units to house all of our excess stuff.  This self-gratifying infectious disease is sucking the life of the Holy Spirit out of the Body of Christ.    


In addition to denying self a disciple of Jesus must carry his cross every day and follow Jesus.  As 21st century believers, I doubt if we grasp the impact these words had on Jesus' disciples.  Imagine what Peter thought?  He knew that Roman crosses were erected to crucify people.  The idea of carrying his cross must have been perplexing, if not confusing, disturbing, and unsettling.     


The verbs "deny" and "take up" in Luke 9:23 are aorist verbs in the Greek text.  This means that denying self and taking up your cross is a one time completed action, but, since these verbs are linked to the word "daily" disciples of Jesus must rise every morning, choose to deny self, and carry their crosses throughout the day.  It's a once every day determined decision.     


Denying self and carrying one's cross is more than a literary metaphor to make a point.  For Jesus, it meant a literal physical death.  Although Peter didn't know it at the time, his cross would lead him to a literal death as well.  Don't get me wrong.  Jesus and Peter weren't masochists; first century versions of today's suicide bombers.  Denying themselves and carrying their crosses were acts of love which made it possible for them to serve those whom God placed before them. 


For us today, carrying our crosses means crucifixion. Each morning we choose to crucify our selfish nature that wakes within us all.  We deny self to serve those to whom Jesus places us alongside each and every day.  I cringe as I type these words.  They sound so drastic, so culturally incorrect, but what can I say.  I don't pattern my life after cultural correctness.  What choice do I have if I want to be a disciple of Jesus?


There is another aspect to carrying our crosses that Christians in the western world have experienced little of.  The influence of Biblical thought in western society has saved us from the persecution that Jesus and Peter faced.  This Biblical consensus is a forgotten memory of an ancient age.  Our culture has converted to a secular, even an anti-Christ, consensus that demands we embrace its unbiblical doctrines and practices or else pay the consequences, and there will be consequences. 

Even today, here in Canada, I know of a brother in Christ who is losing a portion of his income because he refuses to cave into cultural correctness.  


As disciples of Jesus living in an anti-Christ culture, persecution is rounding our corner and will soon knock on our door.  Deciding to carry our crosses as a public demonstration of following Jesus will be costly.  We can either live in relative comfort and safety by falling in line with the cultural correct crowd or we can reap the consequences of carrying our crosses to follow Jesus. 


Consider the martyred saints we see in the book of Revelation.  They refused to cave into cultural correctness.  "They loved not their lives in the face of death (Revelation 12:11 HCSB)."  For them carrying their crosses was not a literary metaphor.  It was literal death.  We may not be among these martyred saints, but that doesn't mean we will escape any consequence for carrying our crosses.  Whatever price you and I are paying, or will pay, we will choose to be a cross carrying community that stands strong in the face of the cultural correct crowd.


Home Page