From the Pastor: Proverbial Texts V
"This is my cross to bear"|
Properly: "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him ... take up his cross and follow Me." Mark 8:34
It is common to hear someone in some pain or illness complain about it,
but then say with resignation, "this is my cross to bear". People will
often refer to their aches and pains in this way, as if bearing the
cross is all about aches and afflictions which we can do nothing about,
and that suffering them is a kind of martyrdom.
However, contrary to this common sentiment we must insist that all and
sundry, Christian and non-Christian alike, have their aches and pains.
By contrast, "bearing the cross" is properly understood as follows:
It is first of all something voluntary. We must take it on ourselves as
part of the discipleship decision. It is never something "visited on us"
as some kind of judgment.
Secondly, it has to do with shame. The cross was an instrument of
torture and execution reserved for the worst types of criminal. Shameful
treatment was part of the process. Just as Christ undertook the cross of
shame so He calls His disciples to do the same: endure shame, insults,
and even ill-treatment for the sake of His Name.
Thirdly, taking up the cross involves following Christ (see above).
No-one who "bears the cross" is other than a disciple of Christ Himself,
who identifies with Him in every possible way.
But Christ, while He calls us to shame here, He promises a life abundant
even now, which the world around knows nothing about, and a glorious
eternity beyond. This hope has inspired many a martyr even to give his
life. Can we not "take up the cross" right now and enjoy His benefits,
but suffer the shame, the exclusion, the hostility for His dear sake?