The Cross-Carrying Life

Following Jesus means we hear his invitation to come and see, listen to His teaching, act upon what we learn from Him. When we follow Jesus, we are stepping into a new life that
leaves an old life behind. It will cost us some of our worldly ambitions, but it will give us so much more.

The Cross is God’s great act of solidarity with His Creation. Jesus Christ gave up his home in heaven to be born, live, and die as a human being.

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and
every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:6-10 NLT

The Cross is what it cost Jesus to save us. Jesus invites us to take up our cross and follow Him.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” -Luke 9:63

What will it mean for us to take up the cross and follow Him? What should we look for in a cross-carrying life?

LOOK FOR COMPASSION

Whatever you experience in life, Jesus joins with you. We have a Savior who identifies with our experience.

  • Have you ever felt alone? Jesus knows what that is.
  • Have you ever wept in sorrow? Jesus wept.
  • Have you ever been tempted? Jesus was tempted
  • Have you ever known poverty? Jesus had no home
  • Have you been frustrated? Jesus ran moneychangers out of the temple.
  • Have you ever been weary? Jesus sat down by a well to rest.
  • Have you ever been disappointed? Jesus knew that feeling when he wanted to save, ‘but you were not willing’.
  • Have you experienced Rejection? Have you been Ridiculed?

Jesus joins us in our pain. Following Jesus is not a path of least resistance, not a path free of pain and struggle. It is a path that acknowledges that Jesus is with us in our pain.

Psalm 139:3 … you are familiar with all my ways.

Hebrews 4:15 NLT This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin..

“There is no human suffering in you or anyone else in the world that has not been suffered by God.” -Henri Nouwen

To take up our cross is to connect our experience to Jesus. Look for Compassion …

LOOK FOR DIRECTION

Jesus single-mindedly lived in the direction of the cross. In the same way, when we take up our cross, we find direction in life.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my
yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus promises….
Rest – the weariness and burdens of life can distract us from our purposeful decision to follow Jesus.

Understanding – he is gentle and humble. This is a lifetime journey – we will learn as we go.

Direction – a yoke – we will learn from Jesus how to follow Him through the complexities of a life of faith.

What do you need most from Jesus right now? Rest for your weary spirit? Understanding for your missteps and faults? Direction for your next steps of faith?

The Cross tells us that Jesus calls us all to come to Him for compassion and new direction and it also tells us to

LOOK FOR COMMUNICATION

Bring your pain into the healing presence of the cross. Your pain should be a catalyst for your prayers. Lord, it hurts not to be liked by people that I love. Lord I’m so fearful today. I don’t know where it comes from, but I am anxious and fearful. My body aches, Lord. I am in physical pain. I don’t know why the doctors can’t help with the pain.

When we pray, we connect our whole life with God’s life. Take your worries and convert them into prayer. Take your fear and connect it with God’s fear. Take your depression and see it in the presence of Jesus dying on the cross. Bring it to the One who has suffered all and lived it all. In the presence of Jesus you can live beyond pain and joy, sadness and gladness. When you pray you connect your life with God’s life. You live in a new way.

Conclusion

Jesus’ statement in Luke 9:23 begins “Whoever wants to be my disciple” What should we look for in a cross-carrying life? Compassion, Direction, Connection. Whoever wants … do you want to follow Jesus?

What a privilege it is that Jesus the perfect Son of God invites you and I to sit at His table and remain with him forever!

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. – Acts 3:19

Why don’t you accept the invitation of Christ in this verse to lay down those burdens and take on His direction?

Resource
Nouwen, Henri. Following Jesus: Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety. New York: Convergent, 2019.