Let Us Carry Up Our Crosses and Follow the Lord!
Translated by Allan Liang
The last sharing centered around Jesus asking his disciples this question: “But what about you?” (Mark 8:29) Peter as the representative of the disciples, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, gave Jesus a good answer, and knew only then that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Eternal God (Mark 8:29, Matthew 16:16) In the proceeding story, Jesus again revealed that the twelve disciples were particularly dear to him in his ministry. (Mark 3:14, 8:12). Verse 31 was the first time Jesus prophesied that we would be mistreated, (mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:33-34) causing the shadow of the cross to draw closer and closer. Jesus saying that he would suffer affliction, went completely against the Jewish understanding of the Messiah, who would neither suffer nor be killed. Jesus in his day to day living with the disciples, gradually revealed to them the cost of discipleship and the truth of sharing in Christ’s suffering so that they may share too in his glory. Jesus spoke to his disciples clearly about his true identity has the Messiah (8:32) and the implications of that, pointing to the old testament prophecies of the suffering Messiah that would be fulfilled in him (Mark 9:31, Luke 22:37, Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12, Zechariah 9:9, 12:10). Even the leader of the disciples, Peter, could not free himself from the influence of the old Jewish understanding of the Messiah and did not clearly understand Jesus’ true mission on this earth. Satan tried to use Peter, for though Peter had seemingly innocent intentions, his attempt to disrupt the salvation plan would only satisfy the Devil. In the Roman age, the cross was an instrument of execution, and those sentenced to this death would usually have to carry their own instrument of execution to the specified place (Mark 15:21). To carry up one’s cross before God is to see oneself as dead, giving one’s life totally unto God’s will, symbolizing the desire to die for the sake of Christ and to die with Christ. To deny oneself is to forsake one’s life and forsake one’s pride and view the things of this world as worthless. Only those who forsake the life that is doomed to perish and totally enter the resurrected life of Christ are worthy of God’s eternal life. To carry one’s (his) cross does not imply that those who follow Jesus must carry up the burdens from our Lord Jesus, but rather, all the redeemed children of God must completely submit to our Lord Jesus, for he is our Savior and moreover, is the Ruler of our lives. He will one day come again gloriously and judge the world, taking us - all those who belong to him - to heaven where we will live and eternally worship the triune God. If we deny Christ before men, Christ will also deny us before his Father (Mathew 10:16-33). In this adulterous and perverse generation, in this age where faith is met with oppression, and particularly in this time of pandemic, may God help us reflect on our walk with Him. Does our faith waver, or does it stand strong, do we consider the gospel our glory or do we consider it our shame? Do we ask God for the pleasures of this world, and are we, as Peter, sometimes deceived by the Devil? Yet is our faith strengthened one time after another by the grace of God and His light of truth? After believing in God, how have I confessed and proclaimed the name of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16-17), and how great is my understanding and hope in the glorious coming of our Lord Jesus? (Mark 14:62, Daniel 7:13). Please read Mark 8:31-38 carefully, and meditate with reflections and prayers: In this time of pandemic, let me think once again about the meaning of “taking up one’s cross and following the Lord” and its intimate relationship with my spiritual living. In our life of walking with God, and being built up together through church and daily living, how are we to live out the holy call to suffer and be gloried with God.