Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Remember, the Lord had just called Peter an accuser and told him to “get behind me.” Now Jesus uses that exact same word and says “if anyone would get behind me…” Getting behind Jesus, following Him, requires taking up your cross.
What does Jesus mean by this? I’ve heard people use it in a lot of different ways. Sometimes they’ll use this term in talking about an ongoing illness, or even their spouse.
“That’s just 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.
In the next few verses, Jesus makes it clear what He’s talking about.
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”
The Lord is speaking about giving up the temporary in order to gain the eternal. The word, life, that He uses here is the actual word for soul. It’s the seat of who you are as a person; your personality, likes, dislikes, desires, and experiences.
We have to lay all of that down if we’re going to experience God’s destiny for our lives. That’s the only place where we can experience true fulfillment. It’s the kind of life where we can look back a million years from today and say that it was all worth it.
But there’s more to it than just that. There’s a tougher part that needs to be laid down.
“If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
I believe that this speaks directly to where we are as God’s people at this point in history. The word, generation, could also mean a people group. So Jesus is talking about being ashamed of what He does or says in the midst of an adulterous people group.
Hear what He’s saying. In order to be adulterous, you have to be in a covenant relationship. The Lord isn’t talking about the unsaved here. He’s talking about those who want to follow Him within a church that’s following after the world’s way of living.
There’s a huge segment of the church today that’s ashamed of what Christ does and says in the Scripture.
“Oh, no, we don’t talk about that subject in our church. We don’t want to offend anybody.”
I thought that the Good News of Christ is that we are headed in the wrong direction – eternity separated from God because of our lifestyle. But now because of what Christ did on the cross, we can be reconciled to God and CHANGED by the power of the Holy Spirit placed within us.
Father God, I pray that you give your people the boldness to proclaim Your message and to accomplish Your work.
Question: How have you experienced shame over the ministry or teachings described in Scripture?
© 2018 Nick Zaccardi