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DO YOU BEAR A CROSS FOR JESUS ~ Jack Albright
What does a person mean when they say, “This is just another cross that I must bear?” That statement comes from devout Christians as well as non-Christians. It is often quoted by a person who is suffering poor health, death of a loved one, or many other physical problems that both Christians and non-Christians suffer.
To discover what the Bible teaches about cross bearing we turn to Matthew 16:21-28 where Jesus challenges the disciples to “take up their personal cross and follow him in cross bearing.”
This story begins when Jesus and the disciples are in Caesarea Philippi. Jesus asks them, “Who do other people say that I am?” They answered, “Some say you are Moses, Elijah or one of the prophets.” Then Jesus asked them bluntly, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ, (the Messiah), the son of God.”
The Greek words in Matthew 16:21 read, “Jesus began and continued to tell them that he must go to Jerusalem, must be tried, must be condemned and must be crucified, and must be raised from the dead.”
Peter rebuked Jesus for saying such a thing. Jesus rebuked Peter and said, "If any of you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, take up your cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24,25)
Notice the action involved: Each person is require to decide to willingly accept a cross and then pick it up and carry it.” To bear a cross for Jesus we must deliberately, intentionally decide that we will follow Christ and willingly pick up our cross and willing to die for Jesus if that is what it takes.
As I write these words my mind searches desperately for a time in my life when I was challenged to die for Jesus. Finding nothing of great importance I turn to the example of true martyrs.
Bishop Nicholas Ridley and Bishop Latimer were burned at the stake (October 1555). Latimer died much more quickly; as the flames quickly rose, Latimer encouraged Ridley, "Be of good comfort, Mr. Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle by God's grace, in England, as I trust never shall be put out."
That dear readers, is an extreme example of what it means to take up your cross and follow Jesus.
There are Christians in 2018 who are bearing their cross for Jesus...and dying.
How can you and I in our non-hostile society dare claim that we are bearing a cross?
The best example that I can share happened this week. I awoke at 5am looking at the ceiling. At my age I experience radical changes that often overwhelm me. I was in a pit of depression because of a horrible fear that I was being robbed of part of my self-esteem. It was a false fear...but very real to me.
I secluded myself in my office and went face-to-face with God. I claimed his promise that he would fill me with the Holy Spirit and give me peace, comfort, and healing. After several hours of struggling, God told me that I must give him my “core personhood.” I must take my cross of absolute surrender of everything that makes me who and what I am. My total personality.
I took up my cross and there came a peaceful feeling moving from my lower abdomen up to my brain. I had total peace. Peace that is real, but that I cannot explain.
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