Take Up Your Cross

GUWG-Cross-NewWe continue our journey through every word spoken by Jesus in the Gospels to help us all KNOW JESUS MORE NOW.

We’re attempting to answer the question What exactly are Christians supposed to do? by looking at 50 commands straight from the mouth of Jesus.

Here’s what it reeeeeally means to be a disciple:

God’s Health Care Plan

If anyone would come after me,
he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily
and follow me.
(Luke 9:23)

I’m blessed to attend a church headed by one of the largest-brained pastors in the history of the universe, Dr. Marc Erickson. In his sermon yesterday, Dr. Erickson — a former emergency room physician — diagnosed a serious disease running rampant through the world today:

SELFISHNESS

The prognosis? If left untreated, death. Fortunately, God provides a cure:

JESUS

When asked for God’s prescription for daily living, here’s what Jesus, the Great Physician, said:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Matthew 22:37-39)

In other words, we should do the exact opposite of what the world tells us to do. God’s agenda — not ours — should be #1. We should love Him above all else and then love others like we love ourselves.

What a wonderful world it would be if we all lived like that. Here’s a little prayer to help us all start off on the right foot . . .

GOOD MORNING, GOD!
Thanks for another day.
Help me live it for you.
Not for me.
Everything I have
everything I am
is yours.
Help me follow you
with every step I take today.

AMEN

Christianity In a Nutshell

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Stop whatever you’re doing right now and memorize this verse. Meditate on it. Live it.

LIVE BY FAITH IN JESUS

“Surely He Was the Son of God!”

This week, we’re walking in Jesus’ footsteps to the cross and beyond.

Yesterday, Jesus died on the cross. Or so it seemed.

Rather astonishing eyewitness reports are pouring in from all over. According to those accounts:

  • “Darkness came over all the land” from approximately noon until 3:00 p.m. yesterday as Jesus hung on the cross (Matthew 27:45).
  • At the exact moment of Jesus’ death, a huge curtain in the temple measuring approximately 60 feet high and 4 inches thick was “torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51). According to religious authorities, that curtain separated the “Most Holy Place” — an inner sanctum symbolizing God’s presence — from the rest of the temple.
  • There were also reports of earthquakes and rocks splitting at the exact moment of Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:51).
  • Stranger yet, witnesses reported that “the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life” and “came out of the tombs” (Matthew 27:52-53).
  • Even Jesus’ executioners appeared to be affected by the strange events. One centurion reportedly exclaimed: “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54)

STAY TUNED

It’s Friday . . .

. . . but Sunday’s coming. Click here.

Jesus’ Last Words

This week, we’re walking in Jesus’ footsteps to the cross and beyond.

In the last 24 hours, Jesus was betrayed, arrested, abandoned, mocked, beaten, condemned and hung on a cross to die. According to eyewitness accounts, these were his final words:

Forgiveness. Jesus’ first words on the cross were “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Even in agony Jesus embodied God’s amazing love, echoing his earlier words from the Sermon on the Mount: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).

Salvation. Jesus was crucified between two thieves. One hurled insults at him. The other repented and begged, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

Compassion. Seeing his mother, Mary, and the disciple John grieving near the cross, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to John, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:26-27) John followed Jesus’ instructions and took Mary into his home.

Forsaken. Witnesses reported that, beginning at noon, “darkness came over the land” for three hours. Then, at about 3:00 p.m., Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45-46) Jesus endured the darkness of separation from the Father to pay the penalty for our sins.

Thirst. Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28) Jesus thirsted on the cross for us so that we would never have to thirst again (Revelation 7:16). As he said earlier: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37).

Finished. Jesus declared: “It is finished.” (John 19:30), conquering sin forever (Hebrews 10:5-13).

Surrender. Finally, Jesus cried out, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit” and then breathed his last (Luke 23:46). Jesus submitted to his Father’s will up to his very last breath. And he did it for us.

BEHOLD THE CROSS

Jesus’ Last Week

For the next week, we’ll be walking in Jesus’ footsteps to the cross and beyond.

Let’s set the stage . . .

Crowds are starting to gather.

The people are expectant. The governor’s worried. The religious leaders are uneasy.

God’s coming to town.

And He has a plan: saving you and me.

They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” (Mark 10:32-34)

JESUS IS COMING