Tuesday, September 3, 2013

following Jesus = cross carrying Luke 14:25-33

Following Jesus leads inevitably cross carrying--maybe that's why Jesus offers no promise of easy street or pain free living. Instead Jesus says whoever won't carry the cross isn't fit to be his follower (Luke 14:27). We don't like these kinds of words and often ignore them even when the come from God. We want God to embrace us as we are--but Jesus wants us to pick up our crosses and follow him (Luke 9:23) Jesus didn't have a theology of glory or a gospel of prosperity. He promised a cross for his friends and knew one was coming for himself. Jesus made no bait and switch sales pitch to entice the huge crowd who came to hear him (Luke 14:25). Instead our Lord spoke the plain truth--there will be costs paid and sacrifices made for the sake of the kingdom of God (Luke 14:26). Jesus invites us to follow with eyes wide open to the very real cross carrying that comes included when we walk with him as his friend and followers.

So what will you do about with the cross as Jesus follower?
In one sense Jesus disciples can do nothing about the cross--it's just an inevitable outcome of walking with Jesus. But how we act, knowing that the cross is coming and especially when we are carrying its weight in our lives, is our choice, as Jesus' followers. Jesus embraced the cross on which he would be lifted up for the sake of the whole world. He embraced it as the father's will (Luke 22:42). Embracing your own cross as part of the Fathers will is part of following Jesus. Jesus told two mini parables to illustrate the point, one of building without thinking through the cost (Luke 14:28-30) and one of going to war without considering the opponent who comes to fight(Luke 14:31-33). These stories intensified his point: his followers will make sacrifices and they have advance warning.

Many of heroes in the faith--who serve as models of how to carry the cross--stand out because of the joy they shared with the people around them as they gave up everything for the sake of the kingdom. Corrie ten Boom and Dietrich Bonheoffer are two in the last 100 years who literally gave up everything--even family--for the sake of God's kingdom and his righteousness. In our age when family and children become idols Jesus' radical message of surrender sounds even more shocking--but the truth is plain to see. Following Christ means cross carrying and through the cross comes rising in Jesus to new life.
Peace and thanks for reading, John

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