Take up your Cross

© creativecommonsstockphotos | dreamstime.com

Today, as often on the second Sunday of Lent, we will sing the hymn ‘Take up
your Cross’. It’s a classic which we can easily slip into singing without
registering the seriousness of its challenge to us. When Jesus spoke the
words ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up
their cross and follow me’ he was saying that his followers would need to
experience death at the hands of the world before they could be raised to
eternal life. Many of his first disciples died early from faith-related

In today’s passage Jesus shocks his followers with two staggering
revelations. First, he confronts them with the fact that he will have to
suffer death in achieving his mission. Then, Jesus introduces the disciples
to the nature and conditions of his discipleship: they were called to follow
him, and that meant they too would share in the cross to which he was

For us, the cross is not a fate that we grimly accept. Rather, it is that
fierce demonstration to all the world that when sin is at it’s ugly worst,
God is at his redeeming best. The paradox of salvation is that sin is
defeated by meeting it’s victorious, destructive power with the weakness of
obedient love.

Following Christ is costly. We must deny our selfish desires to use our time
and money our own way and to choose our own direction in life without regard
to Jesus. Following Christ is costly now, but in the long run, it is well
worth the effort.

To follow Christ there are at least three conditions that must be met. We
must be willing to deny self, to take up our crosses daily, and to follow
him. In dying, Jesus provided the gift of resurrection to the world. It is
in dying that he came to eternal life. It was in losing his life that he
found it.

Philip Muston