As we consider the work and ministry of Christ during this season of Lent we must remember that in Christ we see both God revealed for who he truly is and we also see man revealed for who he truly is. Jesus of Nazareth was very God and very man. And Jesus says to all who would be Christians, “Take up your cross and follow Me.” And throughout history there have been many who have sought to mitigate this command. Some downplay Christ’s perfections and deity; he was just a wise moral teacher and political activist. So the bar is lowered, and it is not nearly as demanding to follow him. Or others downplay Christ’s work and suffering. Well, he was God after all, sure it was painful and hard, but God can take a whole lot more than I can. Or others get right to the point and try to dodge Christ’s command. “Take up your cross,” they say, “that’s just Jesus’ way of saying that you can’t expect it to be easy.” But that turns Jesus’ command into a warning, and there are places were Jesus gives those kinds of warnings but not here. Jesus commands every one of his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him. This is an act of obedience; it is active and willful and is not a passive-grin-and-bear-it approach to life. What is your cross? It may be anything from physical hardships to ongoing relationship issues to actual persecution or mistreatment, and ultimately it still simply means being willing to die for allegiance to King Jesus. Many Muslims today face the threat of the death penalty for converting to Christianity. The command of Jesus is that if you want to follow him you must give up your life, you must be willing to die and follow him. We are at war with all sin and wickedness, and Jesus is the commander. And He says to you, follow me. Husbands, love your wives and your children and follow Jesus. Wives, respect your husbands, delight in your children and follow Jesus. Children, obey your parents and love your brothers and sisters and follow Jesus. All of you, give up your lives for one another and follow Jesus. Do justice, love mercy, and follow Jesus.
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