'And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.' Mark 8:34
I don't think there could be a clearer explanation of what is asked of a christian. If we would truly come to know Him we must deny ourselves the right to our own opinions and passions. We must choose to follow in His footsteps living simply and truthfully as He did. We must not entertain any lies, lust or anger in our hearts. These must be crucified. We must choose to nail our reactions to our own personal inner cross and instead choose to put on Christ. In other words our reactions should mirror His.
Even in the face of hatred and slander Christ never reacted. We read: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb before his shearer is dumb, so opened He not His mouth." Acts 8:32
This was a truly remarkable act of self denial especially for One who could have called twelve legions of angels to help Him.
Other harsh words were hailed at Him: 'Save thyself and come down from the cross!' Mark 15:30
These harsh words, filled with hatred, were shouted at Christ as He hung on the Cross; a hatred that came from the enemy of our souls. He did all in his power to destroy Christ because he despised Him. The Cross which was meant to destroy Christ became His chariot and our access to eternity.
And now, Satan hates not only the Christ but the cross too. He hates when a Christian truly picks up the cross and follows Christ because it's then that we become truly effective. If the enemy can cause us to slip out from under its heavy, painful load then he keeps us away from accessing true fellowship and power with the Son of God. Satan presents his case so logically to us: what is being asked of us is so unreasonable. He would have us 'Save ourselves and come down from the cross!'
And how easy it is to listen. Our own flesh feels the same!
It takes a true godly individual to cling to their own personal cross and truly deny themselves, to allow every wrong reaction to die that Christ might live within us.
In my personal readings I have come across a beautiful quote from Samuel Rutherford:
'Give not away your crosses for nothing.'
Let not your logical mind, your friends, family or the enemy of souls take away your cross. It is your highest privilege to carry your cross for Christ. Let our following of Christ be real. Let us, like Samuel Rutherford who was exiled for his faith, cry: 'Thanks to God for crosses!'