Sunday, July 10, 2022

Take Up Your Cross

By Joe Chesser


    Everyone knew where Jesus was heading when he was being led through the streets of Jerusalem carrying his own cross.  Everyone knew he was heading for Golgotha (the place of the Skull – John 19:17) where criminals were crucified.   Carrying a cross for all to see was a part of the cruelty of a crucifixion. It not only was painfully exhausting, it was also an intentional public humiliation.  People watched and pointed.  People yelled things that were harsh and heartless.  Carrying your cross to your crucifixion was never intended to be something done privately.  It was out in the open for all to see.

    Likewise, Christianity was never intended to be something kept secret. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  To “take up his cross” meant a public execution to those who heard Jesus speak these words.  To be crucified with Christ was not intended to be kept within the safe confines of a church building or a friendly church environment.  No, to take up your cross and follow Jesus means to openly acknowledge Jesus as your savior and as your life.  Jesus also said, “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.   But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9).

    To acknowledge Jesus before men means much more than our confession of faith before baptism.  It certainly includes that, but to acknowledge Jesus means that our lives are lived openly for the public to see our faith.  It means we are to let our lives be like a light to the world, not hidden under a bowl, but up high for all to see (Matthew 5:14-16).  It doesn’t matter if they point and stare.  It doesn’t matter if they do not understand or agree.  It doesn’t matter if they speak ruthlessly, or even physically persecute us.  It doesn’t matter because we have died to ourselves.  We no longer live.  Christ is now living in us (Galatians 2:20), openly for all to see.  We have taken up our cross and followed Jesus! 

    When people became Christians in the first century, they didn’t go into hiding; they didn’t retreat into communes or monasteries.  They openly took up their own cross and followed Jesus!  Jack Graham has said, “While salvation is intensely personal, it is never private; it is always public!”  Everyone knew where Jesus was going when he carried his cross.  Do people know where you are going when you take up your cross?

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at

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