Bible Ballistics:Cross or Manger? February 23, 2014 Vol.3 No.15
I know this is our usual Q&A week, but after the events of the last couple of weeks, I decided to postpone till next month. I’d’ like to consider what Jesus said in Luke 9:22-25,
“Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. 23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?”
Jesus was preparing his disciples for His impending death on the cross, that He would
be slain… ..
and raised the third day…’
All for YOU and ME!! Although they didn’t fully understand what was coming, Jesus called them to carry their own “cross”. Why? He makes it clear that for those who would “come after” Him, the cost would be self-denial. We are to take up the “cross” daily, and follow Jesus. To ‘…loose his life for my sake’ to ‘…. save it….’. Saved for eternity—living for Jesus by dying to myself. To give up little to gain all.
What does Jesus mean when He says ‘take up his cross’? Does He mean our conflicts, difficulties, and general challenges of living? Or is He referring to something else? Is He talking about our kids, our rheumatics, our jobs and such or something more? To answer this we must consider what the ‘cross’ is. In much of our American culture we have minimalized the cross and made it an ornament rather than the symbol of our salvation. We decorate with crosses, we wear them around our necks, in our ears, on our dashboards and bumpers. But what is the cross? It was an instrument of death, an instrument of cruel torture used by the Romans as a method of execution. For our Savior, the cost of our salvation. HIS death was of eternal import, the price for our salvation. What is He calling us to do? To take up our cross, is to do as Paul explains in Galatians 2:20,
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
I am to identify with Jesus, and take up my cross –to die to myself. Yet Paul says, my death is to be unto Christ, as HE will live “in me”, in the person of the Holy Spirit. As we see in Colossians 1:27,
“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” Jesus dwelling in us, ‘the hope of glory….”
That I can come to learn that the Spirit of Christ is living and working in me, Romans 8:28-31,
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”
To know that God is working in my heart and life, to make me more and more like Jesus; that when God saves me, He has a plan to bring me to ‘glory’. To have confidence in the one who “called”, “justified”, and will “glorify” me, through His own Son’s sacrifice for my Sin. A confidence that reminds me,
“If God be for us, who can be against us?”
The cross bought our salvation and calls us to ‘give ourselves’ to Him, for His glory, our present good, and eternal glory with HIM in heaven one day.
And the ‘manger’? Jesus was born and placed in a manger and we love that story. We know that the eternal God of the universe left the throne of His father to come and live in a body of flesh, to show us the Father, and to DIE for our sins.
Matthew 1:21, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
And Luke 2:7, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Mary gave birth to the Savior of the world and laid Him in a ‘manger’. A trough for feeding became the cradle for the King of Glory. Yet Jesus didn’t call us to take up our ‘manger’– to sleep, to rest—He called us to take up our ‘Cross’!!! To die to ourselves and ‘LIVE’ for HIM—to live for His glory, 1 Cor. 10:31,
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
Why? Because I love Him and am grateful for what He did for me. But also because He has called me to ‘follow HIM’!! He went to death for me—I am to die to ‘myself’ for HIM. To be a testimony of what Jesus can do through someone devoted to HIM–
So what are you doing? Are you resting in your ‘manger’ or taking up your ‘cross’? Although we are to ‘rest in the Lord’ by faith, we are also to die to ourselves and ‘take up our cross’ and follow HIM to the cross. To follow Him to death, if necessary, but to follow HIM. To know that it’s ‘not I but Christ’—to focus on HIM not me. Where is your focus? Resting in the manger, or carrying your ‘cross’?
Phil. 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me..”
It’s all about HIM—not about me. Living in His strength alone! Am I denying myself—or denying Jesus? Food for thought as we walk through this week. Carrying our cross? May others see Jesus in me.