Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Cross of Jesus Christ in the Christian’s Life

The Cross
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong /

Mark 8:34-38 
“When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?   For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”  

Romans 6:7-14
“For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (NKJV)

The geographical heart of London is Charing Cross. All distances are measured from this landmark which is simply referred to as “the Cross”. A small boy, lost in the London fog, was unable to find his way home even with the help of a police man. Finally, he said, “if you will take me to the Cross, I think I can find my way home from there.”

The Cross of Christ is the unifying symbol of Christianity. Jesus was spat upon, whipped, slapped, mocked, subjected to the strain of six illegal and mock trials, and subjected to the burden of a very heavy wooden Cross. Finally, He suffered the horrible death on the Cross. Praise God for the crucifixion of Christ! 

Jesus taught however, that there is more to the Cross than His crucifixion. The other half of the Cross is the crucifixion of self in the life of the Christian (Mark 8:34-38). Jesus put it this way: “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

Just what does it mean to crucify self? 

Self Crucifixion
Image courtesy of Boaz Yiftach /
All of our sins can be traced to a love for self. Genetics and environment may be contributory factors but the ego that is absorbed in the love of itself is the root of all our sin. Since the root of all sin is a love for self, it follows that the very essence of saving faith is a crucifixion of self in which one’s love is transferred to someone else. “To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:37) means to commit one’s whole life to Christ. When this is done, the object of one’s love is no longer self; love is then transferred to God and fellow man (Matthew 22:37-39). Thus the Apostle Paul said: “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live” (Galatians 2:20)

The Christian is one who has died to self and sin and lives unto God (Romans 6:7-14). It is only when we crucify self that we experience genuine repentance. The Greek word translated repentance simply means “a change of mind”. When you change your mind about something, you also change your attitude towards it. Not until you change your attitude are you likely to change your actions. When one repents, he stops loving self and starts loving God and his fellow man. This change of mind and attitude is then evident in his actions.

Jesus taught that self crucifixion is a necessity for the Christian. The words “whosoever will come after Me” indicate He is stating an absolute requirement. He made it plain on another occasion when He said “Whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27).

Image from

The story of the Cross is the story of God’s love for man. To take up the Cross must mean to love Jesus more than one loves his family. Jesus said: “He that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And He that does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:37-38). To crucify self means to love Christ more than we love material things (Mark 8:35-37).

We crucify self by crucifying fleshly desires and lust (Galatians 5:24), and selfish acts and attitudes which characterized our lives before they were committed to Christ. Paul writes in Galatians 6:14: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” The Apostle Paul boasted in the Cross of Christ; “By whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.”

it is I

The story is told of Augustine who had lived a sinful, promiscuous life before he was saved. On a visit to his home town, a woman met him on the street with whom he had lived in sin before his conversion. She ran toward him shouting “Augustine, Augustine, It is I, It is I” He turned to her and said, “But this is not I! The Augustine you knew is dead!” 

To deny self in one’s life means to deny sin. Paul said the old man is crucified with Christ, “that henceforth we should live not to serve sin” (Romans 6:6)

The Cross speaks of boldness. There is no trace of selfish silence in the life of the committed Christian (Mark 8:28). The Cross is nothing more than a cruel method of Roman execution if we have not realized its demands of self denial in the life of the Christian. The Cross is not only the source of our salvation; it is also the symbol of what our lives ought to be after we have been saved.

In conclusion, let us quote two stanzas of this popular hymn:
I must needs go home by the way of the Cross
There’s no other way but this
I shall ne’er get sight of the Gates of Light;
If the way of the cross I miss
Then I bid farewell to the way of the world,
To walk in it never more;
For my Lord says “Come” and I seek my home,
Where He waits at the open door

This is the Cross and that is what it means to the Christian. Are you a Christian and is this what the Cross means to you? 

God bless you all.

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