Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
After Jesus was scourged, subjected to intense physical torture, after He was left bleeding and sore, after He was weakened and abused, He then had to take up His cross and bear it up the hill to the place where He would give His life. On His back so red and raw from the beatings, He placed a heavy plank of wood and carried it forward. Though Simon was compelled from the crowd to bear the cross after Him, surely Jesus still felt the weight of it upon His own shoulders. But He was able to bear it, and surely God enabled Him to do so, because it was in God’s will for Him to go all the way to the cross. It was God’s will that He die on that cross. And so this was a necessary burden.
Each of us is also called to bear our cross after Jesus. We are called to pick up our own and follow Him. And though we may have been ravaged and beaten down by things in our lives, that doesn’t excuse us from also having to bear our cross. And if it is the cross that God has called us to bear, then it will fit perfectly upon our own shoulders, and He will enable us to bear it. If it is a cross He has called us to, He will come forth Himself and bear the weight of it alongside us as we travel up the narrow street of His will.
What strength it took for Christ to endure all that He did. It surely took every ounce of physical, mental, and spiritual strength to go through that whole experience. And that same strong, powerful, almighty Christ is with us as we bear all that He’s asked us to. He will take up the greater part, the heavier part, and give to us only what we are able to bear. Only then are we able to go forward all the way to the end, to see it through to completion. In this humble position, with the weight of a cross on our back, we will truly see what it is to deny ourselves and serve Christ.
Jesus was called by His Father to bear a literal cross upon His back, to carry the implement of His own death to the place where He would gain the ultimate victory. And the crosses we are called to bear are not problems that come as a result of this life or difficult circumstances. The crosses we are called to bear are the plans and the purposes of God for our lives that we submit to in perfect obedience to Him. Each one is shaped and fashioned uniquely for each of us, and as we take them up, we can follow confidently after Jesus.