By Randy Ballinger
Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34, New Living Translation).
This statement no doubt caused many fireside debates among Jesus’ disciples. They had seen men carrying crosses before, and they knew it had only one outcome: a painful and humiliating death for the one bearing that burden. One disciple, Simon Peter, was adamant that Jesus would not suffer in such a manner. But Jesus would have none of Peter’s argument—Jesus would take up his cross.
And when that specific Friday arrived, Jesus did carry a physical cross. All his life leading up to that date, though, Jesus bore another type of cross; he bore the death sentence of needing to die for the world . . . because he did not seek his own way.
Jesus humbled himself by dying on the cross in our place. For this, God has highly exalted him. The cross was the power that conquered Satan and sin. The cross of Christ is his greatest triumph and glory.
As we realize the power of Christ’s crucifixion, we live as ones who have died to the world and to sin.
As Christians, we must bear the cross, acknowledging that we are worthy of death, believing that we are crucified with Christ, and that the crucified One lives in us. “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ” (Romans 6:6, NLT)
When we accept this life of the cross, we are able to say: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20-21).
Randy Ballinger lives with his wife, Gina Ann, near New Paris, Ohio. He is an elder with the Centerville (Indiana) Christian Church.