This weekend we contemplate Jesus’ sacrifice as He carried a cross to Golgotha and died to pay the debt of our sin against the Holy God. Any other thoughts we have, (including this blog post,) are small compared to the magnificent thought of Jesus and all that He has done for us. I hope that in the midst of your festivities this weekend, your contemplations are filled with peace, joy, and an ever-deepening knowledge of God’s Love for us shown in Jesus Christ.
Recently, I have been struck by these verses in Luke 9:23-24, that speak of carrying a cross.
“Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Luke 9:23-24
I was listening to a sermon on the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to be saved?” (Mark 10:17-31) Jesus replies that this man should sell all that he has, give that money to the poor, and then follow Jesus. The passage specifically says that Jesus looked at this man and loved him. Jesus wasn’t trying to make his life difficult. He loved this guy enough to point out the thing that was keeping him from following God wholeheartedly. The first and greatest commandment according to Jesus is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (Mark 12:28-31)
This ruler had to make a decision between either loving God more than anything else in this world, or loving his wealth more than God. And when a decision comes across our path that forces us to choose between following God or keeping this other thing we want, our actions will show if we truly love God with all of our being.
I’m not saying it’s wrong for me to want babies. (I’m sure the ruler used his wealth for much good.) And I’m not saying that the reason I’ve had miscarriages (or the loss you’ve experienced) is because of an idolatry of the heart that we have. I am saying that sometimes God shows up and He loves us enough to tell us what is keeping us from following Him wholeheartedly.
But I wept as I listened to the next part of the story- “At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” (Mark 10:22) I wept because I know the frailty and idolatry of my own heart, and am thankful that God is answering my prayer to desire Him more than anything else. What if God never gives me children? Will I still follow, obey, worship, and love Him with my whole heart? I don’t want to join the rich young ruler in walking away sad because I deem something on this earth to be of greater worth than God. That would be a greater sorrow.
But I also know that it is impossible to walk the life of faith and daily carry our cross apart from God’s help.
“The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” Mark 10:27
And there’s the beautiful part… Jesus asks us to deny ourselves, daily take up our cross, and follow Him. He doesn’t tell us to go be miserable and blaze a new path in suffering. He calls us to follow Him. Which means He’s gone before us.
I don’t know what cross is in your life right now that God is asking you to pick up each morning. Or what idol He is asking you to surrender to Him again. But I do know that we don’t do this alone. We have a Savior who carried His cross to death in order to demonstrate His great Love for us and save us from the judgement we rightly deserved. (Romans 5:8)
As we contemplate Jesus’ death and resurrection this weekend, may our view of Him transform our view of the difficulties we encounter in our lives. May we desire Him above everything else in our lives, because He died and rose again to redeem us.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20