“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Matthew 10:37-38 (context, vv. 34-38)
It’s funny, but we never realize that the challenges of following Jesus are never more than the cost of not following Him. The cross leads to death, most certainly. But let’s never forget that there is a resurrection that does happen after that death. We’ll never live unless we die first.
The problem is that we don’t want to die!
We cling to our lives with the intensity of a drowning man clinging to a ‘life ring.’ We dare not let go. We dare not simply give up and really call out to Jesus. We hang on to the old life, and as a result, will never, ever experience the new. We believe that we will really drown. We are afraid.
Jesus is demanding from us a preeminent love for Him. A love that ‘nullifies’ anything earthly; a love that surpasses anything “good and proper.” He wants it all! There will be no competition, no contesting our love for Him. Jesus is either all, or He will be nothing.
Yes, there is a “cross.”
There will be a awful terrible death to everything we think brings us life. The “disciples” understood crucifixion. A Roman general once did it to the members of a Jewish rebellion. He lined the highways with 2000 crosses, to declare the iron-clad sovereignty of Rome.
Yes, the disciples knew. They remembered the horrifying deaths of so many. They undoubtedly passed by these insurrectionists who hung on these crosses and died. They vividly understood that a cross wasn’t a piece of jewelry, but it meant an awful bloody death of a human being. They knew. The cross was gruesome.
Following Jesus means this kind of death.
It ends everything dear to us. It irrevocably ends life as we know it. Life now consists of having a first love, a renouncing everything else that we hold dear. The relationships we thought were good, are now stumbling blocks to the path to our cross.
Yes, there is always a resurrection. Life will be given back to us. But death comes first, and it is incredibly painful. Sometimes we preach and teach, we embrace a “resurrection” life that excludes a cross. We jump right into a Christianity that has circumvented a terrible death. We are now officially, “cross-less Christians.”
“Unless he obeys, a man cannot believe.”