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The Burdens of Christ

The Burdens of Christ

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. As we do, we’re now at the crucifixion of the Lord. This is one of the most important events in all of history.

But, before He ever went to His cross, Jesus told us that we each need to carry our own cross. What does that mean to us? I believe that the events surrounding His crucifixion, give us some insights.

As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.

Luke 23:26 NIV

The first thing we see is that in His weakened state, the Lord was physically unable to carry the full weight of His cross. So, a man named Simon was made to carry it.

Nobody volunteers to carry a cross. He had to be forced to do it, and it wasn’t even Simon’s cross.

We may not want to do it, but carrying our cross is a choice every believer has to make. It’s a daily decision. It’s not some situation that we find ourselves in.

I’ve heard some women say about their husband, “You’re my cross that I have to bear.” That’s absolutely not what’s meant by carrying the cross. It’s all about a daily choice to deny the flesh and follow the leading of the Spirit.

However, there’s more to the story that we need to see.

A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” ‘

For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Luke 23:27-31 NIV

This section of Scripture shows the compassion of Jesus Christ in a powerful way. The Lord is too weak, physically, to carry His cross. Someone else has to bear the weight for Him.

Yet, at the same time, we see Him spiritually strong enough to bear the burdens of others. There are crowds of people following Christ to the place of His execution. Jesus looks at them and shows His concern for them.

Any other person in that place would be worried about themselves.

“I’ve got my own problems. Yes, weep for me. Show me your support of what I’ve done. Encourage me to do what I have to do.”

But, through all of this, Jesus shows that His focus is not on Himself. He’s doing this for others. For the crowd watching, as well as for you and me. He showed in this instance that there was no self-centeredness in His makeup.

He looked at these women and had compassion on them. He saw their future. Israel was going to be attacked and destroyed. All of its people would be scattered across the world. He was bearing the burden of that knowledge.

We need to follow his example. Yes, there are things we’re going through and battles that we’re fighting. But that doesn’t excuse us from ministering to the needs of others.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2 NIV

We’re not told to help others only when everything’s going great for us. That’s not the example Christ laid down for us. We’re to help one another even when it’s not convenient.

Allow the Holy Spirit to work through you. Let Him strengthen you, not only for your trials, but in order to be an encouragement to others.

Question: How have you helped others while going through your own trials?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2023 in Ministry, Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Hard Road of Discipleship

The Hard Road of Discipleship

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

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2022 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Discipleship – The Cost and the Glory #discipleship

Jet Plane to NowhereI’ve been posting about discipleship.  How far are you willing to go to follow Christ?  The Lord doesn’t make it sound very convenient.

In my last post we saw that Christ said it involved picking up your cross and following Him.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:26

Most people get tripped up by this verse because they don’t understand the usage of the word hate in the Scripture.  This word has no emotional attachment to it.  It’s just like the word agape, used to convey the idea of love.  Hate is a choice rather than an emotion.

This word hate means a choice to not participate with.  There are times when being a disciple of Christ means that you choose not to participate in every family event.  Maybe it’s a baby shower or a graduation party that’s held on a Sunday morning.

Christ is saying that if you choose to participate with your family over the Lord, then it shows that you’re not a disciple.  You might be a believer who loves God.  But you have yet to choose the high road of discipleship.

Following Christ can be very inconvenient at times.  However, if you want the same results as Christ, you must live as He does.

Jesus also makes the point that we must count the cost of discipleship.

“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:33

If you find your Christian walk to be easy, then you’re not yet a disciple.  The closer you follow to Christ, the harder your choices will become.  But there is a bright side.  The longer you serve the Lord, the easier it will be to make those choices.

It’s all about cultivating an attitude – I am nothing else but a disciple.  It may sound like a tough road, but in the end it’s worth it.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
John 15:7-8

The way of discipleship leads to a fulfilled life.  There’s a manifestation of the power of God working through you.  When you live at this level it becomes obvious to all those around you.  Your life shows the fruit of the spirit.

It’s apparent that you couldn’t produce the blessings that you’re walking in.  God is at work in you.  That’s the ultimate goal.  Living as a disciple shows God’s glory.

It’s that glory that will draw others to Christ.  This is what the Christian walk is all about.

Question: How much is the glory of God worth to you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Power of God, Revival

 

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