Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

Take up your cross

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

Who do you think Jesus is?

This was a probing question that Jesus Himself asked His disciples,

‘Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?..." (Mark 8:27-29)

Under this questioning Peter makes the following confession,

"You are the Christ." (V.29)

Christ is the Greek form of Messiah, and this confession triggers a flood of fresh revelation from the Lord Jesus.

Now he teaches that the Son of Man

‘…must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again’. (V. 31)

Living as we do on this side of the cross, it is easy for us to be a bit condescending about Peter’s reaction to what Jesus had said,

‘…Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him’. (V. 32)

But from Peter’s perspective, Jesus simply had to be wrong on this subject. After all, messiahs don’t get killed - They win. And how could a God-anointed, miracle-working Messiah like Jesus lose?

Peter, of course, was profoundly wrong. For even the disciples had not yet grasped that Jesus the Messiah was simultaneously conquering King and Suffering Servant.

But there was more to come.

Not only did Jesus insist that he himself was going to suffer and die and rise again, but he also insisted that,

‘…If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’. (V. 34)

To a first-century crowd, such language was shocking.

To “take up your cross” did not mean putting up with a toothache, job loss, or personal disability.

Crucifixion was universally viewed as the most barbaric of Roman forms of execution, scarcely to be mentioned in polite company.

The condemned criminal “picked up his cross”. In other words, he picked up the cross-beam and carried it to the place of execution.

If it was your lot to pick up your cross, there was no hope for you. You were condemned to die - There was only an ignominious and excruciating death awaiting you.

Yet that is the language Jesus uses.

For what all of his disciples must learn is that to be a follower of Jesus the Son of Man, the Christ, entails a painful renunciation of self-interest and a wholehearted turn to Jesus’ interests.

Yet Jesus’ blunt language is not an invitation to spiritual masochism, but to real life, for it is an infallible rule of the kingdom that,

‘…whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it’. (V. 35)

Only for a few will this commitment entail loss of physical life, but for all of us following Jesus and becoming His disciple means death to self.

And that includes a glad confession of Jesus, and principled refusal to be ashamed of Jesus and his words in this adulterous and sinful generation (V. 38).

This Jesus is the Son of Man, the Christ, are you prepared to take up your cross and follow Him?

Have a good week following Jesus,

Pastor Barry

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