“As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.” Matthew 27:32 (NIV)
Take: to get into one’s hold or possession by voluntary action.
To take is voluntary.
Simon was forced to carry the cross with Jesus. He bore the weight that was too much for Jesus in His weakened physical condition. Simon did not have a choice to help Jesus; and yet, through the process of coming alongside Him in this barbaric situation, He grasped the weight and understanding of the cross. He didn’t simply walk away to never again consider the man who would be nailed to that cross. He took in the truth of Jesus on the cross and passed it along to His children. (Mark 15:21, Romans 16:13)
“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38 (KJV)
Taketh: to take or get a hold of; to receive.
To take is to get your hands on and receive what is offered.
The cross is a vile form of execution. The cross was so inhumane it was eventually outlawed as a means of capital punishment. And yet, Jesus says if you are unwilling to take up your cross and follow Him, you aren’t worthy to be His follower. What’s up with that? Why would He expect us to voluntarily take hold of a cross? Didn’t He die so we wouldn’t have to do that very thing?
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29 (NIV)
Take: To take up or away; to raise up or lift; to take upon oneself and carry what has been raised physically.
To take is to personally participate in the raising or lifting while carrying.
The truth is there’s a cross with your name on it. Because of sin in the life of each person, death is the penalty and judgment. Jesus also says that because He’s been hated and persecuted, as His follower, you will be as well. There will be plenty of people who will want to nail you to your cross. In the midst of struggles and persecution, will you take up your cross or walk away?
The cross of Christ has already been lifted. Because of what Jesus has done, death is not the end of our story. It’s a step in the process rather than the end of the journey. We will face things from our past, things in opposition to our faith, but we don’t have to do it alone. When we are willing to acknowledge that truth, He offers His yoke as well. We can take hold of His yoke to help us carry our cross. He offers us what He’s already done. When we take up our cross, we can also show people what we’ve been set free from. The cross is the cost of our sin. We deserve death. Thank God, in Christ, we receive life.
I found this story of St. Patrick, someone who picked up his cross and followed hard after Jesus. We may not be called to minister to a country, but we each have a family, neighborhood or circle of friends God wants us to reach for Him.
Something to Consider…
Do you have a hard time grasping the truth of the cross, what Jesus did, and why He did it?
Do you have a difficult time acknowledging the truth of your own sin and the reality of the penalty for that sin?
Jesus invites you to follow Him. Where will He lead you? Straight to the cross. Let Him help you understand and grasp the truth of what He’s done for you. Let Him help you acknowledge the truth of your own sin and receive His grace and redemption so you can live free, willing to take up your cross and share His love with others.