Mathew 16 vs 24: 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.
Luke 9:23-24 (NIV): 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.”
What does it mean to take the Cross of Jesus?
One of the instructions of Jesus Christ is contained in this passages that if any person that want to call him/her self a Christian or follower of Christ. If anyone want to be known as a sincere and faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. He laid down some basic qualification and criteria if you want to follow Him:
- You must deny yourself
- You must take up the cross
- Make this a daily exercise
- Follow Jesus blindly, foolishly and always.
What is the cross of Jesus? What does it mean to take up the cross of Jesus?
- The cross of Jesus Christ means readiness and willingness to undertake any sacrifice in order to win a soul. It includes using your time, money and your energy to serve Christ.
- Taking the cross of Jesus Christ means making God first i.e. making Him the first priority, planning for Him before planning yourself, placing His will not your will, serving His interest before serving your own interest, answering His prayers before you expect Him to answer your prayers.
- The cross of Jesus Christ means confessing Jesus as Lord, even to the point of death. Taking the cross of Jesus means readiness and willingness to undertake any sacrifice in order to win a soul. It means whether you are rich or poor, whether you are hungry or well fed, whether things are moving out for you or not. You should still continually declare the goodness of God.
- The cross of Jesus Christ means readiness to forsake all the pressures of this world for the for the kingdom sake. Taking the cross of Jesus means readiness to forsake the pleasures of this world- money, fame, position, and power for a place in Heaven. Which means if a position is going into deny you a place in heaven, you are ready to forsake the position. If getting a job or contract is likely to deny you a place in heaven, you are willing to forsake the contract.
- The cross of Jesus Christ means having the confidence to preach the gospel to anyone whether low or mighty.
- Taking up the cross of Jesus Christ means using every opportunity to preach about the gospel.
- Taking up the cross of Jesus Christ means your readiness and willingness to talk about Jesus Christ everyday of your life. It means that you must be determined and decide that as much as you are alive in this world, you must always talk about Him to somebody.
- Carrying the cross of Jesus Christ means obeying all the instructions no matter how irrational it may look, this may include obeying ministrations to speak about the gospel, obeying divine instructions to do the work of God.
- Carrying the cross of Jesus means not compromising the gospel. It means not diluting the message of salvation. It means preaching the gospel as it is.
- Carrying the cross of Jesus Christ means not being afraid of those who can kill the body but fearing God who can kill both the body and the soul.
- In summary, carrying the cross of Jesus Christ means doing what Jesus Christ will do, saying what He will say and obeying His laws and commandments.
Martyrs of the Cross
Both the old and new testament contained stories of several martyrs of the Gospel who defended the gospel, who refused to betray Christ, who stood with Jesus, and took up the cross of Jesus to all the ends of the earth. Almost all the Apostles of Jesus paid the supreme sacrifice for carrying the cross of Jesus and they counted themselves worthy to have died preaching the gospel. In the course of carrying this cross of Jesus Christ, several saints over the centuries have been persecuted, have been chugged, have been snarled, have imprisoned, have been tortured to death, have been murdered and have been crucified just like Jesus Christ.
But the interesting thing is that the saints consider it honorable and worthy to be persecuted because of the cross of Jesus Christ and infant rejoice in their persecution. In the old testament, 85 Priests of the Lord were murdered by King Saul because they refuse to betray King David (a man after God’s heart) he refuse to betray David into the hands of King Saul who was seeking his life (1 Samuel 2:27)In 1 Samuel 2 vs 27, we read the story of how King Saul ordered the execution of 85 Priests, just because they refused to betray King David, a man after Gods heart into the hands of King Saul -his enemy.
“And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, Turn, and slay the priests of the LORD; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not shew it to me. But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of the LORD.
And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.”
In the Old Testament, Jonah agreed to be thrown into the turbulent ocean as a punishment for his refusal to carry the cross of Jesus Christ and preach the gospel to the Nineveh. (Jonah 1:17)
Because of this cross of Jesus Christ, John the Baptist was beheaded on the orders of Herod simply because he preached against adultery committed by Herod (Matthew 14:10).
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself who requested His followers to carry His cross was the first person to carry the cross, He preached on the mountain and in the valley, He preached on the land and in the sea, He taught the followers during the day and prayed for them at night.
He condemned the vices of the Pharisees and saducces, He demonstrated the love of God and fought for the poor, widows, orphans and the needy, because of this He was arrested, they spat on Him, they slapped Him, they spice His body with swords, they lied against Him, they drag Him to Golgotha and crucified Him on the cross.
Stephen was the first Christ Mather who lost his life carrying the cross of Jesus Christ (Acts 7:59). Apostle Stephen was stoned to death by the Jews for preaching the gospel, yet he knelt down interceded for his wicked accusers and pray for the forgiveness of their sins.
In carrying or in the course of carrying this cross of Jesus Christ, James the son of Zebedee also pay the supreme sacrifice in 44AD; James was beheaded on the orders of King Agrippa1, for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Interestingly, this King Herod Agrippa1 was the grandson of Herod the great who tried to kill the infant Jesus in Matthew 2; the King Herod Agrippa1 was the nephew of Herod Agrippa who killed John the Baptist.
Philip carries the cross of Jesus Christ to the Northern African city of Carthage and was able to convert the wife of a roman proconsul to the Lord. This display the proconsul who got Philip arrested and got him crucified in 54AD.
Apostle Matthew carries this cross of Jesus Christ to Ethiopia preaching the gospel of salvation to Africans. Unfortunately, they resisted the gospel and Matthew was killed by the sword in 16AD.
James Alpheus was another person who lay down his life because of his commitment to the work of God. This James was the leader of the church in Jerusalem, this James who was the brother of Jesus Christ who was thrown down more than a hundred fit from the south East pinnacle of the church in Jerusalem temple by the Scribes and Pharisees. His offence was that he refuses to deny his faith in Christ Jesus. When they discovered he survived the fall, the Scribes and Pharisees descended upon James, they dash his brain with a fullers club and beaten to death.
Mathias who took the place of Judas also carries the cross of Jesus Christ to Syria where in a company of Andrew, he preached to the gentiles but he faced persecution and he was burnt to death.
What do we say of James the son of Zebedee, who was put to death by Herod Agrippa 1 in the year 44AD? What do we say of Bartholomew, also known as Latania who was weep to death while he was preaching the gospel in Amelia in Asian continent?
What do say of Andrew who was crucified patria in Achaia while preaching the gospel to Greeks?
What do we say of Mark the apostle who was persecuted for having the effrontery to preach the gospel in Andexzandria? He was drag by horses through the streets of Andexzandria until he was turn to pieces and died.
Peter was not so lucky; he was crucified upside down in an x-shape cross, because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to died the same way Jesus died.
A lot of other martyrs of the gospel especially among the early apostle who were willing to undergo any persecution in order to preach the gospel.
Jude, Bartholomew were all martyred during various missionary journeys. Simeon the Sealord was killed in Persia because he refuses to sacrifice to the Persian sun god.
Luke, Barnabas, Timothy were all killed for the sake of Christ. Apostle John was boiled in a wooden basin of boiling oil during wave of persecution again Christian in Rome.
However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to myrrhs on a prison line of bathmose where he wrote prophetic book of revelation. Apostle John was later released and returns to serve as a bishop in modern turkey; he died an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.
Thomas was not so lucky. He was killed by four soldiers with spares during a missionary trip in India.
Apostle Paul however faces the greatest persecution. II Corinthian 2 listed various persecutions OF Paul the apostle. He was imprisoned several times. He was flogged severally on numerous occasions; five times he received twenty lashes of Cain by Jews, 3 times he was beaten with rods, once he was stoned, once he was dragged out of the city and left to die, he was shipwrecked three times and at one point in time, forty people made a vow sealed it with an oath and curse themselves that they will not eat nor drink until they have killed Paul. Yet in all this tribulation, Paul’s principle was that he could do all things through Christ that strengthens him, and by the grace of God, it was sufficient for him.
He had a recalling physical aimnenty and a messenger of Satan was assigned to afflict him continuously. Apostle Paul eventually tortured to death when he was beheaded on the orders of evil emperor Nero in the year 67AD.
I have recounted all this stories to show us clearly how the first generations of Apostle suffered, how they preserved, how they were persecuted in carrying the cross of Jesus Christ, they were willing to go to any length to preach the gospel, they were willing to go to any pain to preach the gospel and they served God truly with all their heart, might and power.
The power of God moved within their midst and their ministry was marked with signs, wonders, and miracles.
What do we find in the current time? The present church, the tragedy of the present is that it has turn into a comfort zone; the church seems not to be unaware or seems not to be ready to carry the cross of Jesus Christ.
- The contemporary is much more interested in gathering a crowd, rather than gathering souls for the kingdom. The modern church is interested in staying in big urban towns to preach the gospel to a pulsate that is oversaturated by the word of God rather than embarking like the early Apostles to convert on believers like the early Apostles.
- The tragedy of the present church is that is more interested in winning money rather than winning souls, it is much more interested in preaching the gospel of prosperity rather than the gospel of salvation. The teams of holiness, righteousness, sin, repentance, hell and heaven are no longer mention in sermons.
- The tragedy of the present church is that it has abandon evangelism almost completely; visitation of old members has taken the place of evangelism for new members.
- The tragedy of the present church is that is afraid to talk about sin, Holiness has been pushed to the ground, the church is much more interested in numerical explosion as denomination compete against one another for membership. Churches are now much interested in structural beautifications, fanciful altars, well decorated churches; beautiful sits that will make you sleep off during services, the high-tech musical equipment, etc. The church is much more interested in beautification rather than beautifying the souls of members.
- The tragedy of the present church is that the church have abandon the altar of prayer, It has become a dancing church rather than a praying church, it has become an entertaining church, and at times it is difficult to differentiate between a praise and worship section and a disco section.
- The tragedy of the present church is that the apostolic signs and wonders of the early apostles are no more experienced, homosexual has taken over the pulpit, gays and lesbians that God destroy with fire and brimstones are now ordained by bishop. Islam is expanding faster than Christians, as Muslims are buying over churches and converting them to mosques.
- The tragedy of the present church especially in Europe is that the same churches where the Apostles perform signs and wonders have been turned into museum and tourist attraction.
- The tragedy of the present church is that is afraid to talk about sin, every message is now about the grace and mercy of God ant that is difficult to live without sin.
The Tragedy Of The Christians
- The tragedy of the generation of Christians is that they want God to carry their cross but they are not ready to carry the cross of Jesus Christ. The followers of Christ are much more interested in chasing money rather than chasing new souls. The present day Christians are much more interested in blessings they can get on this earth rather than the blessings they can get when they get to heaven. Christians have become benchwarmers, rather than evangelist, Christians has become Church goers rather than missionaries. Jesus Christ called on His followers to take the cross and follow Him everyday, they are much more interested in listening to inspirational messages, miracle services rather than the gospel of salvation.
As I end this message, Jesus Christ is calling on us to repent, take the cross and follow Him. Are you ready to fast for the salvation of a lost people?Are you ready to do the work of a missionary?
Are you ready to forgive your enemy in order to willing to Christ?
This is the cross Jesus Christ asks us to carry
Babatope Babalobi +2348035897435
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