The phrase “it’s my cross to bear” is used flippantly so often that the idea has lost its punch. The “cross” may be a spouse, a child, or a small problem. Sometimes the phrase is even used to exalt the speaker. “I’m so beautiful that people take my picture all the time, but it’s my cross to bear.” People say that seeking to elicit sympathy for a difficulty, great or small, or to get a quick laugh and some fake sympathy. In truth, as followers of Christ we do have a cross to bear. It’s not a flippant comment, it’s a statement of life and death.
Jesus was speaking after Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the Messiah and letting them know of His future. After speaking of his own upcoming crucifixion, “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?’” (Luke 9:23-25)
The cross that Jesus had to carry was set out for Him from before the beginning of time to bear the weight of the sins of all mankind and reconcile all people to God. He was sent to the cross, from a human standpoint, because His message of love and grace upset the established order so much that the religious leaders convinced the secular leaders that the only hope to maintain the peace was to crucify Jesus. It is with this understanding that Jesus looked at His disciples, and by extension, those who claim to follow Christ today, and said, “…deny yourself and take up your cross daily….”
You might ask the question “What does that mean in my daily life?” It means that it isn’t all about you. Stop worrying about your comfort, your safety, your status, your wealth…. Stop worrying about all of those things and focus on God. Jesus Christ went to the cross to reconcile man to God and show God’s grace and forgiveness. We need to accept that same responsibility. You would guess that people living in this world would be excited by this idea. They aren’t. The message of the grace and forgiveness of God puts to lie the idea that people are masters of their own fate. It destroys the notion that we can do enough good things to get to God on our own. It reminds people that no one is “good enough” to get to Heaven. It is this message that we are called to take to the world and be willing to suffer whatever may happen because of it. Whether sharing God’s grace brings death, or loss of friends, we must continue to do that.
Lord Jesus, You died on the cross to reveal grace and forgiveness. You were the agent of reconciliation between God and man. We have the same opportunity to bring reconciliation to people in our world. Give us the grace and strength to love people in Your name and bring them to You.