Bearing The Cross
|Father God we lift up everyone
gathered here tonight and pray that you would show us wonderful things out of the Word.
Teach us, give us an instructed heart, that we might honor you and please you in all we
do, in the blessed, mighty, power-filled Name of Jesus! AMEN
Our Topic tonight is: Bearing the Cross, and to give us a frame of reference, I'm going to post a passage of Scripture from Matthew 27 and Luke 23. This is what occurred after Jesus was tried and convicted and sentenced to death.
Matthew 27:26-27 Then he [Pilate] released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him.
Matthew 27:28-29 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said.
poa - praetorium?
Jo, kinda like a courtyard near where He was tried.
Matthew 27:30-31 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
Luke 23:26-27 As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.
Luke 23:28-29 Jesus turned and said to them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, `Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!'
Luke 23:3 31 Then "`they will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!"' For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?"
Matthew 27:34-36 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.
Matthew 27:37-39 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads
Tonight we want to focus on Simon of Cyrene, who was forced to carry the cross of Christ on the way to Golgotha, and meditate for a few moments on what "bearing the cross" means in our lives. Mark tells us this about Simon:
Mark 15:21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.
Cyrene was an important Libyan city in North Africa. Some say that Simon was probably a Jew, in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. However, Luke says that he had just "come in from the country", and other than that we can only guess at his motive for being in Jerusalem.
Since Cyrene is an African country, it has been suggested that Simon was of the black race and stood out from the crowd because of his color, size and strength. Men condemned to death were usually forced to carry a beam of the cross, often weighing 30-40 pounds. Jesus started out by carrying his, (John 19:17), but he had been so weakened by flogging that Simon was pressed into service.
Not that we know of Jo.
Jesus said inMatthew 5: 39-41 "But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles."
Roman soldiers had the authority to make anyone do physical labor for them if they so desired. They could force you to carry any burden for them for a mile. This is why Jesus once said, if one compels you to carry a burden for them for one mile, then go the "second mile" and do more than they ask.
If Simon was black then we see an interesting sight: two of the most despised races on earth, the black man and the Jew, not resisting the evil intent of the soldiers, but jointly carrying the cross to Golgotha, the place of the Skull. On that cross, Jesus would bear our sin and buy us from slavery to the devil and win eternal life for us.
Yeah Jo, Simon had to do it ... You didn't tell a Roman soldier "NO" and live to brag about it!
Jo, well one of them betrayed him, and then killed himself (Judas), the ten others ran off, and John appeared later at the cross. The Eleven thought they would be arrested and killed also. They were fearful and in hiding and not much help.
Yep Jo, He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, one of His best friends betrayed Him to death, and He was abandoned by the others.
Although Jesus alone is our sin bearer, He has chosen us to complete the plan of redemption. Sinful men and women are called, cleansed and chosen to carry the news of the cross to a lost and dying world. He needed help carrying the cross then, and He needs us now.
Acts 11:20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.
After being mentioned in all three Gospels as carrying Jesus cross, then Simon is not mentioned again by name, although men from Cyrene are mentioned in the book of Acts as carrying the Gospel to the Greeks. Was Simon in this group? We dont know.
On an earlier occasion, Jesus said:Luke 9: 23-24 Then he [Jesus] said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. "
But what we do know about Simon is that he was pressed into service by the soldiers, and followed the weary Savior to his final destination. Behind him were the women weeping and wailing. In front of Simon was Jesus, beaten, bruised, flogged, bleeding weary, with a bloody crown of piercing thorns.
One minute Simon was minding his own business, the next he was in a sorrowful procession bearing an immense burden, behind the sacrificial Lamb of God, carrying the cross of Christ. What a privilege to assist the Lord in this dread duty, and what a horror to have to participate in the shedding of innocent blood!
Good question Jo ... What effect did these events have on Simon? How did it feel to carry the cross of Christ? Was he muttering under his breath about being forced into service? Or did he realize that something extraordinary was going on here?
We really don't know what was going on in Simon's mind during this time, but what we do know about what happened afterwards is in this verse:
Romans 16:13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.
In the book of Romans, written around 57 AD, 24 years after the crucifixion, Paul greets Rufus, Simons son, and his wife, who had been like a mother to Paul. And notice that Paul calls Rufus "chosen in the Lord", which is a unique statement in the New Testament. Since Simon is not mentioned in this verse, he probably had died before this was written.
Simon carried the cross, not at the accidental whim of a Roman soldier, but at the choosing of the Lord, and his son and wife were of great help to Paul in carrying the Gospel of Christ to the Gentiles.
A chance encounter, this carrying of the cross? Not at all. Simon of Cyrene is a type of every man and woman who would follow Jesus. You are called, you are chosen, you lift that heavy beam and turn from the mediocrity of a "normal" life, and follow in His steps.
Luke 9: 23-24 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. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. "
First we are called by Jesus through the wooing of the Holy Spirit. Shall we respond? The choice is ours. "IF" Jesus said, "IF anyone would come after me " If we desire to follow Jesus, if we want eternal life, if we would be accepted in the Beloved, we MUST what?
That's true Romans, but according to Luke 9:23, what must we do?
Hang on Romans, I'll think you'll see the gist of it as we go on ... Jesus is the sin bearer, no other ... Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must .... WHAT?
DENY ourselves. The way up is the way down. To be a son we must first become a servant. We must give up our puny limited vision, sacrifice our merely earthly goals, deny ourselves and then take up the cross. DENY is one of those "four letter words" in our culture that you hardly ever hear!
And we are saved as we trust in His sacrifice, not our own works. We are talking about what bearing the cross means AFTER we are called and chosen.
Like Simon, we are interrupted in the business of living. Like Simon, our goals and plans are changed. Like Simon we hoist a heavy burden we did not earn. And like Simon we follow in the path of suffering to follow Jesus. In the process we lose our life - who we think we are, what we think we want, where we think we are going and yet in the end we actually save it.
Like Simon, we are chosen to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus. And where does taking up the cross and following Jesus lead us? To Golgotha, the place of the Skull, a rocky hill, to be crucified with Jesus.
Paul answered the call and took up his cross to follow Jesus. He turned from the old life that was no life and entered life eternal. Listen to what he says about it:
Galatians 2:20 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.
Paul followed Jesus to Golgotha. In the spirit he saw himself stretched out on the cross, splinters piercing his shredded back. He felt the bite of harsh nails in tender flesh, the crunch of bone on bone as the cross was dropped into the hole, the cry of torn flesh, the pain of utter thirst, the fear, the loneliness, and finally the sting of death .
Galatians 6:14 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.
By Faith Not By Sight! - Thank You, Jesus!
"I have been crucified with Christ", Paul said. "I have died to the world, and the world is dead to me". Ah the blessed peace of death many seek it but you dont have to literally die to get it.
Jo, Paul did say that he cried and prayed often ... I'm sure that the intensity of his vision probably caused him to weep. I can hardly type it without weeping myself.
Allow the Holy Spirit to take you on this journey. Take the heavy beam upon your back, carry it to Golgotha, see yourself stretched out on the cross as the nails pin you there, a death sentence you cannot escape. See the sin in you die. And leave those things that so easily seduce you there, nailed to the cross, defeated and dead.
Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
poa - how old was he when he died?
We have been doing some lessons on Mondays about being led by the Spirit and spiritual gifts. And this is the exciting part of being Spirit led. But we must not neglect the fact that the Holy Spirit will lead you in Jesus steps, and those steps lead you to the Cross.
Paul talks about those acts of the sinful nature that will separate us from God. And the Holy Spirit will not rest until He has led you to the cross so those ugly acts of your sinful nature can be killed. If you are having trouble with lust, take it to the cross and kill it. Dead people do not commit adultery.
If you are involved in witchcraft or rebellion, take it to the cross and kill it. Got a temper and "cant help it"? Not according to the Word. Take it to the cross, nail that nasty thing to that blood stained wood and let it die.
Galatians 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
Romansten10 - please explain how - take it to the cross is a metaphor - in real life, HOW - on your knees?
Well Romans in the spirit it is NOT a metaphor, but a reality. Seeing yourself crucified with Christ... knowing that your sins died with Him ... that you are not under the rulership or dominion of sin any longer, that you are victorious in Jesus gives you power to defeat them in your life.
It helps Jo. On your knees is a good place to start ... asking God through the Holy Spirit to reveal those things of the flesh that are holding you back from serving Him, allowing Him to nail them to the cross, and then BEHAVING like they are dead ...
This is a process ... it begins when you first realize that you are crucified with Christ ... and continues your life long. That is why Jesus says to take up your cross DAILY... But you don't have to be on your knees, you can be conscious of the cross and its work in your life wherever you are. Even at the grocery store ...
1 Corinthians 2:2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Romansten10 - Amen Amen - 'for I resolved' that's
an important step
That's right Romans ... Meditating on the cross and what it means in your life is one of the greatest spiritual exercises you can do. It strengthens your faith muscles, so when temptation comes along you can give it a KO punch in Jesus Name!
The Cross is the key to victory over sin. Paul made up his mind to "know nothing except Jesus and him crucified." Whatever your struggles with sins are, take them to the cross.
Yes Romans Jesus death was the atoning sacrifice for our sins ... but we still live in a body which is bound to a sin nature that WE must take to the cross ... this is also called sanctification.
Jessie Penn Lewis said, "The regeneration of the spirit which comes through the inbreathing of the Spirit of life from God, upon a persons simple faith in the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross in his behalf should be quickly followed by the apprehension of the death of the sinner with the Saviour (Romans 6:1-13), which brings about the deliverance from life after the "flesh" "
When we are born again, our spirits are regenerated or made alive, but we have the same old body and mind as before. We must renew our minds with the Word and crucify the sin nature we inherited from Adam in our flesh.
Some people act like that once you are born again, everything is perfect and you don't ever make mistakes or have struggles. THIS IS NOT TRUE.
The reason our Christian life is called a WALK is just that ... we need to "walk it out" and learn how to live pleasing to God. We are not saved by our works or deeds ... only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But our faith will result in a desire to please Him and a willingness to change as He leads us to.
And one of the MAJOR struggles we all face is called the flesh, or sin nature or old man ... that we have to learn how to "put off" while putting on the new man in Christ Jesus in true righteousness and holiness.
Galatians 2:20 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.
"I have been crucified WITH Christ" Paul said, "and I no longer live". See yourself dead to sin, dead to striving, dead to the earthly chains that once bound you. "Dead men tell no tales" so gossip no longer governs your life. There is no envying and striving in the grave, so you are no longer ruled by jealousy.
So when ol slewfoot comes up with some temptation, you can truthfully say I AM DEAD TO THAT, sin does not rule over me, BE GONE DEVIL IN JESUS' NAME
BUT oh how I love the "buts" of the Bible this is the good part. After the crucifixion and burial come resurrection! After death to self, new life in Christ begins! "BUT Christ lives in me." The Bible tells us we have passed from death into life and that the same resurrection power that brought Christ from the dead is at work in us Christ is ALIVE in us. We are no longer subject to death, sin and hell, although that old and devious deceiver, the devil will try his worst to bring you under bondage again.
"The life I live in the body" is not the old life of bondage to sin, fear of death, anxiety and dread. This is NEW life in Christ Jesus. "Behold, ALL things are become new." "I live by faith " Our new life is a life of faith in Jesus, a life of hope and peace.
And this life is working within us, bubbling forth to eternity, making us to be like Jesus from the inside out. The outside life may seem a lot like the former one, but the inner man of the heart is being transformed into the image of Christ.
There is a negative and an positive side to believing in Jesus ... Negative is crucifying the flesh, putting to death the old sin nature or old man, reckoning ourselves dead to sin. The positive side is being raised with Jesus to a new life full of the fruit of the Spirit, learning how to please God and live for and with Him forever.
I would say that emotions need to be cleansed and directed in the right path, not necessarily crucified. God gave us our emotions and they all have proper expression ... we need to renew our minds with the Word to learn how to properly express them.
What we need to crucify are the ACTS of the flesh or sinful nature, as listed in Galations 5:19-21. When we allow the Holy Spirit to PRUNE us by crucifying these things, then we will produce His fruit.
First of all when we are led by the Spirit, when we pick up our cross DAILY and follow Jesus, we will be led to the place of crucifixion, death to self, Golgotha. When we come to the place of crucifixion, we see our selves crucified with Christ ... and see those ugly acts of the flesh literally nailed to the cross ... let them die there.
This is NOT just a metaphor, but a spiritual event. As we realize the power of Christ's death over sin, we will no longer allow those things to bind us. They are dead to us and we are dead to them. This is also called sanctification or putting to death the "old man" or sin nature.
Even though power over sin was won 2,000 years ago on the cross, sin will still reign in your mortal body IF YOU LET IT. You must DENY yourself, see yourself crucified with Christ, dead to those things, buried, and then raised to new life. We are not talking about salvation in this case, but about living a victorious life.
Believing implies doing in the Bible. Today when we say, "I believe so" it implies an element of doubt ... it may or may not be true. Faith in the Biblical sense counteracts doubt and urges you to act on what you believe.
Romans - that's the whole point - you can NOT change yourself... that's why you must go to the cross and let the Holy Spirit kill those things in you not pleasing to God. IF we could change ourselves, we wouldn't need Jesus!
EW let me see if I can give an example ... When a person is addicted to something, whether drugs or a habit, it seems like that thing is in control, right? And that thing gets magnified in your life and the more you struggle with it, the stronger IT seems to get.
When you pray or meditate on the Word, you magnify God, not your problems. You see Him as stronger than the thing you've been fighting.
When you go one step further, and actually SEE that thing with spiritual eyes, nailed to the cross, whimper and DIE ... by the mighty power of Jesus ... how can it any longer have power over you IN CHRIST? IT is dead to you and YOU are dead to it. Does that make sense? It's a whole change of attitude and direction ... refusing to be SENSE led, and being led by the Spirit. It is re-educating yourself by the Word not to be led by your passions and desires, or what you sense, or the flesh, or even the mind, but being led by the Holy Spirit in your reborn human spirit.
Praise the Lord!!!!
Right Romans ..... as we renew our minds with the Word, as we submit the desires and passions of our flesh for crucifixion, we begin to live that victorious life OVER SIN that Jesus died to bring us.
A good place to read more on this topic is Romans chapter 6.
First of all counter, it is the condition of your spirit when you die that determines your eternal destiny ... have you been born again? Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? That is the key to eternal life. Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to HIS mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
For it is by grace you are saved through faith, not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8).
So what is the condition of that person's spirit at death? Whether by their hand, by act of another or natural causes? That only God knows. I leave the matter in His hands.
Now some would say if you commit suicide you are automatically damned because it is self-murder, murder is a sin and you can't ask for forgiveness if you're dead.
However, it is not YOUR judgement call whether they had a second to repent, or perhaps weren't in their "right mind" due to illness, or perhaps it may have been an accident after all. God is the righteous judge and can be trusted to make the right decision.
I don't personally recommend suicide ... I think it's giving up too soon, before the Lord has reached your heart AND transformed your life.
But I also do not presume to make a judgement on that person's life ... that's God's call.
Now when a person kills themselves, they kill more than just their life. They also open the door to destruction of their loved ones. "Christians" who make bad judgements about the person who killed themself can irreparably damage someone's soul. We must be VERY careful to minister love and comfort, not condemnation in these cases.
I wanted to kill myself one time ... aren't you glad I didn't? I even imagined all the ways to do it and my own funeral .... But then God spoke to my heart in love and changed my mind.
But God showed me that I didn't REALLY want to die, just not live the life I was living. As long as we are alive there is always hope and room for change.
Thats true ... sometimes I feel that way also, but I love the Lord and want to be obedient... and as long as He keeps me here, there's a reason for it!
Counter, the Word says "Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his saints"... Your Grammie is in good hands and is going to a better place!
Counter I lost my grandma to cancer and It was hard to see her go! But I rejoice that she's in heaven, no more pain with JESUS... Glory to God!
Well there wasn't much choice counter! Just knowing where she is and how blessed ... and with her beloved husband and 3 children who died ... how could I deny her that pleasure?
I also lost my father after a long illness... I can truly say that I was relieved he was no longer suffering ... although I miss him deeply... he is with the Lord and I'm content with that.
You won't Counter, it will come back to you and comfort you ... precious memories that will last.
Aridne - The Lord Himself has lost a loved one. He lost His Son. But death was conquered and He received His Son back again. He made the same thing possible for all.
Father God we thank you that we have been crucified with Christ, made dead to trespasses and sins, and that we have arisen by the power of your grace to a NEW way of living and thinking in Christ Jesus. We resolve to know nothing but Jesus and Him crucified. We claim your transforming power for our minds, and overcoming power over the flesh in Jesus Name AMEN
This was a discussion on Seeking Jesus in the Bible Study Chat Room at ChurchUSA.com. We meet on Fridays at 8 PM Eastern Time. Please join us!