Thursday, September 1, 2016

Cross Carrying Luke 14:25-33

Luke tells a story about great crowds who followed Jesus and his direction to carry the cross. I think of it as a great invitation to think about how we see Jesus and the crosses he calls us to carry.
How do you see Jesus?
This question matters.

There are so many true and faithful images of Jesus.

  • the kindhearted soul man who said let the little children come onto me.
  • the prophet who spoke of justice and called people to repent and turn back to God.
  • the man who spoke of God's judgment speaking of those who cared for the least of these as those who cared for God.
  • Jesus is the same one who died on the cross—for the sake of the world—who called out to God in deepest agony—my God, my God why have you abandoned me. Jesus life on earth was just as varied as any of ours might be. He knew joy and pain—he knew friendship and betrayal.
And how we think of Jesus—which part of the story we tell ourselves and those we love matters.

And today in Luke comes this powerful story about the great crowds who were following Jesus and what he had to tell them. The crowds came to see miracles and hear powerful teaching. They came to see him in the marketplaces and in the synagogues. I think most people in the crowds had one picture of Jesus. And it was true picture. They had this one image of Jesus as the powerful miracle worker. But his words to the great crowds set them and everyone who still heads his words back a step or two.
Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself cannot be my disciples.
I think the crowd would have gotten really quiet to hear these world. The crowds came expecting to be filled. They wanted to step up and receive many good things—and Jesus spoke to them about picking up their cross. A cross that was coming not just for him but for them. Pick it up he said—pick up your cross and follow me.

We want God to make us prosperous and healthy, happy and care free. And Jesus tells us not to leave our cares behind but to pick up our cross and start to walk with him.

Pick up your cross—oh brother—I don't want my cross. I'd like some other cross—but Jesus doesn't tell me to go pick out my favorite cross. He tells me to pick up mine. If we could pick our crosses they'd be small. Maybe made of gold or platinum and covered with diamonds. But the real cross isn't small. Maybe you'd like a cross made of balsa wood—but we don't get to pick our crosses. They come for us in this life. And to walk with Jesus means carrying our own and walking close with him.
Peace, and thanks for reading, John.

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