Thursday, May 20, 2010
What the Cross Means
"And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple."
When Jesus said, "And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27), the meaning would have been readily understood by the people of the first century. However, its meaning is largely lost in the 21st century. When people think of the cross today, they may think of church, Christianity, or Jesus Christ. But back in the first century, a cross would have meant the cruel method of torture and execution.
The early church did not use the symbol of the cross, because the cross was a despicable representation. A form of execution that originated with the Persians and was later adopted by the Romans, crucifixion was designed to humiliate a person and bring a slow, excruciating death. The cross also served as a warning to anyone who saw it that they had better not mess with Rome. The sight of a man surrounded by Roman guards and carrying a cross through the streets meant that he was about to die a long, painful death.
So when Jesus spoke of discipleship as carrying your own cross and following Him, His hearers would have immediately caught on: Oh, I get what you are saying. You mean like that guy who is carrying his cross and is going to die on it? You want us to die to ourselves—is that what you are saying?
But today the cross has lost its meaning. For many, it is little more than a fashion accessory. Like the woman in the jewelry story who asked to see the crosses "without this little man on them," many people today are looking for a cross without Jesus, one that requires nothing from them. But if we are to be followers of Jesus, then we must take up the cross.
Copyright © 2010 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
- This life will have its sorrows
- God loves us
- Jesus weeps in our times of pain
- God can be glorified through human suffering
Hope for Hurting Hearts, Pastor Greg Laurie's new book, examines these truths, revealing God's love and care for us, and shows how we can find hope, even in the midst of the most unbearable pain and sorrow.