It begins with a wrestle between wills in the spiritual equivalent of Gethsemane. Do I allow my will to die so that Christ’s will for me will prevail? The trouble is, I know when Christ prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane it lead to the cross. This is where Jesus wants to take me. Here is the implication of His invitation “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me!” Remember Jesus’ closing words at Calvary, “Into your hands I commend my spirit!” That is what I do when I take up my cross.
In essence, this taking up of Christ’s offer of discipleship is inseparable from Salvation. Such a spiritual commitment is expressed in the drama of baptism by immersion. Unfortunately, for some, being saved and becoming a disciple are two distinct experiences. Saved but stagnant, attending services not obeying commandments; lookers not followers; absconders not learners. Such folk are alive and active in their own will but indifferent to Christ’s call.
Disciples exhibit two phrases Paul expressed. One is: “I’ve been crucified; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me with Christ, and the life which I now live, in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for mw’ (Galatians 2:20).
Second one is: ‘I die daily’ (1 Corinthians 15:31b). Can you make a list of that to which your ‘Gethsemane’ calls you, if not daily, at least sometimes?
Those verses point to this reality: To be a disciple is to take up one’s cross and follow Christ. That then implies that only those who have been crucified, therefore dead to their own sovereignty, can be disciples. It is only such ‘dead servants’ who can be fruitful to the Father (John 15:4-8).
Christian discipleship begins with a cross and ends with a crown. Death to self-will, self-importance, to self-centredness allows Christ’s love, life and liberty to take root. The path Jesus walked in His humanity He blazed for us to follow. Fortunately, He keeps us company all the way.
Take up your cross.
The Lord’s insistent command,
“The cross is waiting your hand
Should you want to come, follow me,
You need to know the touch of Calvary.”
How can I the cross define?
Unseen, yet it rules my mind.
Portrayed the cost vividly.
There He prayed fervently
“Father, Your will be done!”
To carry my cross is my choice,
Faith’s obedience to His voice.
Ignore the cross, you walk alone. 2
the Lord only chooses to own
Those who are identified
With Him, the Christ crucified.
The cross is the Lord’s glory,
The centre of the Gospel story. 3
Christ’s life changing victory
O’er Satan, sin and death’s misery
Becomes our personal testimony
When we share His Calvary.4
1. Matthew 26:39. 2. Luke 14:27. 3. 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-24. 4. Galatians 2:20.
©Ray Hawkins 13 August 2017.