Taking up our Cross
"Then he said to them all: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
The Christian life is glorious, not in the sense of pleasures, prosperity, and blessings, like many teach; but that it is glorious in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by which the world and all things are dead to us and we to the world. "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal. 6:14).
When Jesus taught us to take up our cross, he was speaking of a personal experience, which he himself had taken before us. Jesus would take up his cross every day. "From that time forth began Jesus to show his disciples, how he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day" (Matt. 16:21). The cross is not something you can take and leave. Once you take up the cross, there is no turning back. Death is a sure thing; the loss of life and all things of this world are guaranteed. Once Jesus took his cross, he did not turn back (Luke 22:42; John 19:17-18).
Once we take it, there is also no turning back because death is guaranteed, but like God resurrected Jesus from the dead, the glorious life of resurrection is also a guarantee for us. "Even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2: 5-6).
There is no way of taking up your cross and avoiding death, but after this heavy and shameful cross, the glorious life of resurrection comes (1st John 2:6). We are not referring here to the knowledge of the word of the cross of Christ who was crucified as an act of justice, but of a life already crucified and justified by faith. It is to live by faith taking up our cross every day, so that the glorious life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. "Always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you" (2 Cor. 4:10-12).
This is not merely a doctrine, but a true letter written by the Spirit of the living God, that can clearly be read by all men (2nd Cor. 3:3). We are his workmanship, full of the fruits of justice that come through Jesus Christ, for the glory and praise of God (Fil. 1:11; Eph. 2:10; Ti 2:14).
When the cross ends its work, man no longer remains, only Christ. No one can know this glorious life if his cross is despised, because God began this work in Christ and will complete it in us (Phil. 1:6).