Mark 8: 34
“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
We wear our crosses around our necks with diamonds encrusted in them.
We keep crosses on our walls, on our desks, in our cars.
We see crosses each and every day as we pass churches, view them online and on television, and nearly every corner of our community.
The cross is both a real and symbolic emblem.
For the early century Christians crosses were gruesome reminders of capital punishment- one of the most severe ways to be killed by the oppressive colonizing empire. It represented not just death but a sentence for treason and death beyond just punishment.
Its equivalent would be for us to have pendants with electric chairs or replica gas chambers in our homes, offices, etc.
The cross is more than just that reminder for us though.
The cross is a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice and ultimate defeat of death. It should also be a powerful reminder that we too must carry OUR crosses.
Our scripture reading today mandates that we each pick up our own crosses and follow Christ.
Jesus knows we like to be comfortable. We like things to be safe and unchanging. Jesus, however, is telling us we must be pushed into uncertainty and discomfort.
Being Matthew 25 means going to the hungry, lonely, thirsty, sick. No one loves going to visit people in hospitals. They remind us of our own health and our own mortality. Being Matthew 25 means stepping foot in jails and prisons without regard for the crimes committed. We can absolutely not want to do those things but Jesus reminds us at the end of that passage that there are eternal consequences for not.
We must pick up our cross and follow Jesus. Follow Jesus not just where we want to go but to where he is leading us. Sometimes to mountain tops and sometimes deep into the valley. Sometimes into the light and sometimes into the darkness. There is always what we want and where we want to go-and the will of God. Very rarely do the two ever align perfectly. What a joy when they do align.
We can forget at Christmas what this cute infant Jesus was sent to this world for. Jesus would grow to a man to challenge us and push us and ultimately die for us. Death could not defeat Jesus though. Have you noticed Jesus never asks us to do anything HE isn’t willing to do or hasn’t done himself?
Deny ourselves and carry our cross? Trust me-he’s been there; done that.
Rev. Lou Ward
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Monday - 1:00 PM
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601 San Juan Ave
La Junta, CO 81050
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