In this sermon, we are going to look at what it means to carry your cross in the Bible.
One of the reasons many believers will lose their faith easily is thinking that life will henceforth be filled with joy, happiness, peace, love, etc.
And for that reason, when they are faced with trials, tribulations, temptations, sufferings, persecutions, etc they conclude that God probably does not care, and some are even forced to deny the very existence of God.
But let’s go to the scripture to see what Jesus told all his would-be followers:
“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. (Mathew 10:38)
And what is this cross that Jesus said we must carry?
What it means to carry your cross.
To carry your cross in the Bible means that you must be willing to endure all suffereings and hardships that will arise as a result of following the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Christianity, another name for the ‘cross’ is ‘persecution’.
And this manifests itself in all kinds of trials, temptations, sufferings, etc.
Therefore, to carry your cross means the ability to endure persecutions; that is trials, temptations, sufferings, etc all for the sake of Christ.
What is the spiritual meaning of the cross?
In essence, the spiritual meaning of the cross (persecutions) is to test the believer’s faith, and make him perfect in the long run:
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials; that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.(1 Peter 1: 6-7)
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.(James 1: 12)
It is therefore this test of faith that is going to make the believer experience the things he reads about in the bible by himself.
Because he might sometimes, or probably every time; be moved to doubt those things that were written down.
For instance; when one reads about how Moses struck the rock thrice because of anger, and he has never been angry before to the extent of committing a crime similar to that, he will think the bible was lying about Moses’s anger.
What are benefits of the cross?
The benefit of the cross is simply to enjoy everlasting bliss in the kingdom of God.
Now when Jesus began His ministry He taught us:
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake. For theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake “rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mathew 4:10-12)
“if anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. “for whosoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (Mathew 4:10-12).
From the above scriptures, we can get the understanding that the benefit of the cross is everlasting life.
That is, the life you are going to enjoy forever with Christ when this particular one is over.
Jesus knew that what befell Him will also befall his followers, so He took the time to prepare us for what lies ahead.
Let’s see His predictions to His disciples before He sent them forth to the cities to go and preach:
But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to councils, and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, as a testimony to them and to the gentiles. Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. (Mathew 10:17,18,21)
(you can find the fulfillment of these prophecies in the following bible texts: Acts 5:40, 7:57-60, 12:1-5, 16:19-24 etc.)
How to endure the cross.
As a new convert, I used to experience a kind of physical weakness. And most times, I will get so confused and start to ponder on whether I have a particular sickness that is going to kill me very soon.
But when I took this problem to God in prayer, He referred me to 1 Corinthians 12:7-10; where I found out that Paul went through a similar experience, and when he prayed to God he had the response:
“My grace is sufficient to you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.(1 Corinthians 12:9)
So He concluded:
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.(1 Corinthians 12:10)
And the reason God chooses to manifest His strength in those who are weak is that they are eager to become strong and so will allow Him to go through and use them.
Whereas someone who is already strong will want to do it all by himself and thus rejects God the passage through his being.
Therefore, to endure the cross, you must emulate and look up to Jesus who went through the same thing.
When Our Lord Jesus came, he did it all for us, and left an example for us to follow; having experienced many temptations, trials, tribulations till He was finally crucified on the cross, and for this reason, Peter wrote:
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.(1 Peter 2:21)
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)
Therefore, if as a child of God emulating Christ; you have not yet been persecuted in one way or the other, then you have to look back.
Is it a must for all who follow Christ to carry the cross?
If you ask me if it is a must that anyone who follows Christ must carry the cross? I will tell you a capital YES.
And if you doubt, then you have forgotten so soon that we have the greatest enemy who was cast out from heaven; and is presently on earth to make war with the followers of Christ.
Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:12, 17)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)
And for that reason, the scripture says:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
And even though sometimes it will seem as if it’s all over, we must take consolation in the fact that:
Many are the afflictions of the righteous. But the Lord delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34:19)
Will this suffering for Christ ever end?
Thus, our sufferings will have an end one day, even if it seems as if we have lost it all most of the time, we will surely make it to a victorious day.
I always take an example from Hollywood movies; where at first the protagonist seems to overpower the antagonist, but even in his weakness the antagonist will always finally kill the protagonist. That is the same way it happens between the children of God and the devil.
For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. (2 Corinthians 13:4)
And all because the world hated Him, they will never love you that follow Him, even as He told us:
If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I choose you out of the world, therefore it hates you. (John 15:18-19)
So you must resist the devil and stand firm by the word of God, knowing that you are not alone in these:
Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (2 Peter 5:9)
And as we said earlier, these sufferings do not come to us for anything; most times there are certain things God wants us to experience by ourselves because reading from others’ experience might seem strange and hard to believe; therefore we must go through that situation ourselves in order to learn and understand better.
But we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulations produces perseverance; and perseverance, character, and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4)
What if we die while carrying the cross?
And if you ask: par adventure we die while carrying the cross, where then is God’s promise to deliver us? Even as Jesus said:
Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them be put to death. “And you will be hated by all for my names sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. (Mathew 10:21-22)
And if you still wonder how one will be saved after death; then it means you don’t know that our faith as Christians lies in the hope of resurrection; which was first manifested in the life of our Lord and n Savior.
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. (1 Corinthians 15:13, 14, 19)
So as a true Christian, you should not mind if you live or die, because our greatest wish is to be reunited with Christ and His glory.
Bible verses about to die in Christ.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:16)
For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14:8)
So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6,8)
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. “yes, “says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labours, and their works follow them. (Revelation 14:13)
Moreover, our citizenship is not in this world; but rather, in the kingdom of God where we are headed.
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to Hid glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:20-21)
So finally, as the scripture says:
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, a though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4:12-13)
We must carry the cross and follow Christ to prove our Christian faith.