Devotion for November 20, 2023

“Then he called the crowd to himself along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” (Mark 8:34)

Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah, but after that, Jesus has some tough stuff to say to his disciples. He tells them about his death and resurrection.

Peter instantly loses whatever brownie points he may have earned by his declaration, when he begins to rebuke Jesus for saying this. Jesus even calls him Satan!

But then the rubber really hits the road. Jesus tells his disciples and the crowd with him that they will have to take up a cross if they want to follow him.

This was not a pretty, bland or inoffensive picture he was giving them. Everyone living during that time was well aware of what a cross was and what the Romans used it for. The image that would have come to mind was not for the fainthearted. I wonder what their reaction was. Maybe there was a gasp of horror from his audience. Peter was probably afraid to say anything after the last time he tried!

Following Jesus is not a picnic in the park, and Jesus never said that it would be, but this would have made people pause.

It still makes people pause today as well. For some people, it even comes as a bit of a surprise. We all like the good bits when it comes to following Jesus, but the hard stuff is not something anybody would want. The other thing is that our crosses come to us — we don’t get to choose them.

Imagine what it would be like if we could choose them:

  1. “I want mine padded; I don’t want any chafing or splinters!”
  2. “I want the smallest one you’ve got — necklace-sized would be great.”
  3. “I want the lightest one.”
  4. “I want mine with wheels, so I just have to drag it.”
  5. “Could I get a cross app on my phone?”
  6. “You got any other colours? I hate brown!”

The good news is we don’t have to carry our crosses alone. Jesus doesn’t leave us all struggling with whatever cross we must bear. Jesus is with us to help us bear the burden.

Whatever cross you might be carrying at the moment, he will help you carry it, and he’s had plenty of experience in this area.

Prayer

Dear Jesus, thank you for carrying your cross and dying on it for me. Please help me to carry my cross and look to you whenever I need strength, encouragement and comfort. Amen.

Stay encouraged!

Pastor Mike

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