Many years ago my wife and I had the opportunity to tour Israel. It was a trip of a lifetime, and the Bible came alive as we visited so many of the areas we’ve read about our whole life. One of the most poignant places we visited was the Via Dolorosa. This is the road Jesus walked to the cross. As you imagine what the scene was like at the Passover with the streets of Israel bursting with celebrants you are overwhelmed with emotions. It helps you understand the cost of discipleship.
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
The cross was a brutal symbol everyone in the Roman empire understood. The Roman army used it generously to remind its citizen not to get out of line. They were always placed in a high profile area where most people would see it, and everyone watched the procession of the guilty who were to be crucified. So when Jesus says unless you carry your cross they got the message. To be crucified meant pain, humiliation, and death.
A disciple is someone who walks in the footsteps of their master. Jesus bore His cross and suffered all the pain and humiliation that a human could endure. While we most likely won’t have to suffer like him, we have to be willing to identify with who Jesus is and what He stood for. If we are pain adverse, we are going to struggle with discipleship. Too many Christians crumble and wither away at the first comment opposing them.
Paul prepared us for this onslaught. He told us to equip ourselves with the armor of God and to stand firm in the truth. Spiritual warfare is a real thing, and if we go out into this world unarmed, we won’t last long. It is getting more challenging to stand for Christ. Living by the truth of God’s word is quickly accused of being hateful. Are you willing to bear that cross and still live out loving God and others? That is what Jesus is talking about here. Consider the Cost of Discipleship.
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