I’ve started talking about discipleship. Jesus was teaching His followers, in the Gospel of Luke, what it took to truly be a disciple. Especially in our society, we’d much rather be a student of Jesus than to become like Him. Discipleship makes us uncomfortable.
Now Jesus goes on with His description of discipleship.
“And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:27 NIV
What did Jesus mean by that? I’ve heard people use this in a lot of different ways. Sometimes they’ll use this term in talking about an ongoing illness, or even their spouse.
“That’s my cross that I have to bear.”
Is that what it’s all about? I don’t think so. Carrying a cross is a sign that you’re about to die. Very soon you’re going to be laying down your life.
I think that it’s clear from Scripture, discipleship and the cross go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. Unfortunately, we have a lack of disciples these days. Maybe it’s because we don’t preach the cross as we should.
Paul had something to say about this.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV
The original Greek of this verse actually reads, the Word of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed… There are many believers whose lives are being destroyed because of our de-emphasis of the cross.
They’re downtrodden, overcome by the world, and bound up by all kinds of sin and addictions. Our lives, homes, and marriages seem to have the same sicknesses as society without Christ. The world no longer looks to the church for answers, because we don’t look much different than they do.
We wonder why we can’t get the victory. These verses make it obvious that without the life changing power of the cross, we’re fighting a losing battle. It’s time to turn this around and bring the victory in this area. We need to get back to the Biblical foundation for our lives.
We need to restore the Word of the cross. But, for some reason, we resist this work. We seem to have come to the conclusion that the cross is only for the unsaved. Why does Paul tell us that it’s foolishness to those who are being destroyed? Because the cross is for those who want to move on to maturity.
Literally, this verse tells us that the word of the cross is a manifestation of God’s power in His people. But it’s not for all. It’s the power of God to those of us who are continuing in the ongoing work of salvation in our lives.
This is why we shrink from it. We don’t like the sound of the cross. When we think of the cross, we think of humility, weakness and pain. Could this really be the road to power?
Jesus’ command to carry the cross is not a call for unbelievers to come to Him. It’s a radical command to follow Christ by giving up all other desires. To pick up the cross means to lay everything else down. To follow Christ means to ignore all other paths. This is a message that gets lost in our generation’s search to experience the best that the world has to offer.
I’m not talking about whether you’re saved or not. You can be saved and on your way to Heaven, yet ignore the call to the cross. It all comes down to discipleship.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10-11 NIV
We all want to see the resurrection power of Christ active in us. The only road to this is through the cross. The Lord and His disciples all walked this path and testified to it. We need to do the same.
Question: How do you define being a disciple of Christ?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi
August 19, 2022 at 11:48 AM
Great post! It is so true that many don’t want to carry the cross; they’d rather live their own lives instead of working on God’s kingdom. I’ve found this fault in myself lately as well; becoming distracted from what really matters with petty little issues.