by Pastor Greg Laurie
Crucified with Christ
Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." (Matthew 16:24)
When Jesus referred to taking up the cross, I'm sure the meaning wasn't lost on the disciples. The cross, as the people would know in this time and culture, was a hated and despised symbol. It was the symbol of a very cruel death. The Romans crucified many people on the roads leading into their cities as a warning to any man or woman who would dare defy the powers of Rome. The cross was meant to humiliate. It was meant to torture. Ultimately, it was meant to kill.
Today, the cross is shrouded in religiosity. It has become a symbol of many things, from a religious icon to an ornate piece of jewelry. It is not necessarily a bad thing to wear a cross, but I think we have lost the meaning of it. Imagine wearing a little replica of an electric chair around your neck, studded in diamonds, or maybe a little hangman's noose. Wearing jewelry like that would be rather morbid, because those are symbols of death and pain. But that is what the cross symbolized. So when Jesus told the disciples, "If you want to follow me, you must take up your cross," they would readily understand what He was speaking of.
The cross speaks of dying to self, of putting God's will before our own. If this sounds like a horrible, negative lifestyle, consider Paul's words: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). It's through death that we find life. May God help us to see that His trade-in deal is the best there is.
Copyright (c) 2004 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.