âWhosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.â Luke 14:27 I have heard good men speak of the believer bearing âcrosses.â But good men and aged men are not always wise. Nowhere in Godâs word does it talk about crosses (plural) but only speaks of one cross (singular). The Cross of Christ. This is the cross Paul was talking about when he said, âBut God forbid that I should Glory save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the worldâ (Gal.6:14). Scriptures speak much of the crossâŚthe cross of Christ. You see, Christ was the only One God approved of and accepted, the One He sent to save His people from wrath and judgment against their sins. He came to do it for a particular chosen people, not allâŚand those chosen ones were loved by God, the people of God, given to Christ by GodâŚHis sheep whom He came to lay down His life for, and redeem from all their iniquities. Christ said He came to be lifted up on a cross, to be crucified as a sin offering to God, to be made a curse under the law, to be a substitute for His people. He said the cross was the cause for which He came. And He said He would come again someday to take them all out of this evil world which He will destroy. That is the Truth and that is why He came. And that is the Truth men hate, because they love sin, love themselves, hate God, hate holiness and hate Godâs sovereign Son. And then He told all of His chosen disciples that they would be âhated by all men for His name sake.â He told them they would be killed for His cause, killed for telling the Truth about God man and Christ. And told all of His disciples (us included)âŚâif any man come after me, let him deny himself TAKE UP HIS CROSS, AND FOLLOW ME.â âWhosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE.â The cross which every believer must bear is persecution for the cross of Christ, the cause of Christ, the cause of God and Truth, the same cross which Christ himself bore. Do not call trials and afflictions that we go through crosses. Though we are called on to bear trialsâŚand we may bear a good witness under those trials, but do not equate them with the Cross of Christ. They are light afflictions compared with His sufferings, âBehold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of His fierce angerâ (Lam.1:12).
Some, if not most of our trials are sent by our Lord to chasten us for our faults. Peter wrote of suffering for our own faults, that it is not thankworthy, but âif any man suffer as a Christian,â now that is true suffering, suffering for Christâs sake, which all believers are called to. âFor it is given unto you not only to believe but to suffer for His nameâs sake.â Many unbelievers in this world go through similar troubles and difficulties which believers go through, so those things cannot rightly be called a cross. Only persecution for the truth, persecution for Christ and him crucified, can rightly be called a cross. When the Lord said, âtake up your cross and follow meâ He was telling His disciples, and us, to take up His cross, to set forth and lift up Christ and Him crucified, to take up His cause, and prepare to be crucified for it. There have been some believers in the past who were actually crucified on a cross. We believe the Lord told Peter that he would be crucified one day (John 21:18-19). Others in the early church were martyred in this way. But even their cross is not to be gloried in by them or us. Let no man glory in men, nor the sacrifice of men, but only in the cross and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. We may be killed for declaring Christâs finished work on the cross, but our death does not merit anything with God, or add to the work of Christ. It is our reasonable service to Him for laying down His life for us. We did not deserve His sacrificial death, but He well deserves ours. We ought to lay down our life for Him and the brethren. In fact the Lord said, âWhosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospelâs, the same shall save itâ (Mark 8:35). Besides, if dealt with according to our sins, we should be crucified as thieves and robbers of Godâs glory. Paul said he was crucified with Christ. This is the essence of true faith, believing that I died in Christ my substitute; that the wages my sin deserves is death, but Christ died. And then Paul said he was crucified to the world and the world to him. He was saying that the world wanted him crucified and dead just as they called for Christâs crucifixion (and they did kill Paul). And although he desired to see men saved, yet he put the world and the things of the world on that cross in his mind and heart; seeing the world as condemned and damned by God for its rejection of Godâs Son. There is only one instance in scripture of someone actually bearing a cross. It was a man named Simon, whom the soldiers compelled to bear the very cross which Christ was hung upon. That man bore the exact same cross which Christ was crucified on, though he didnât die on it. Christ did. Simon felt something of the burden that Christ bore, and so must we. We must carry and set forth the Cross of Christ Jesus (His gospel), have a burden for it and Glory only in it (Him). Let no man speak of crosses which he bears as if he were doing something wonderful for the Lord. No, no. God forbid that we should glory save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. ~~Paul Mahan