The Burden of this Cross

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Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.   Matthew 16:24

ἀπαρνέομαι

aparneomai

to forget one’s self

lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests

disown, abstain

Jesus’ words strike a hard cord in me.  I am called to follow Jesus because I have chosen His way over mine, yet I still want to do things my way, guide the direction of my own life, take my own chances.  Then I hit a wall and it hurts.  I run on empty, unable to go anywhere in life except down by the pull of gravity.  In order to follow the Lord, I am to deny myself, releasing my desires and hopes for His, His alone.  When I am in step with Jesus, all that He desires for me are those things I need.  An interesting piece of God’s puzzle for my life is His desires for me are often just what I desire for myself.  I’m not losing after all.  The relationship with Christ is far more important so that I walk rightly with the Lord.

αἴρω

airō

  bear (up)

place on oneself

to carry

My burdens can be worries, anxieties, physical pain, other people’s lives and their concerns, hurting people of this world, and so much more.  All can weigh heavily upon my heart.  The Word tells me not to be anxious, not to worry.  He is faithful and is with me.  He feeds and clothes the birds; He will do the same for His children.  So I lift those weights and take them to Jesus.

σταυρός

stauros

a stake or post (as set upright), i.e. (specially), a pole or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment)

figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial

by implication, the atonement of Christ:—cross.

The cross is what Jesus was placed upon for His crucifixion.  It is a horribly cruel punishment and eventual death.  Scourging comes first.  The one being crucified must carry his own cross.  Jesus did this part of the way until Simon was compelled to carry it the remainder of the way.  Jesus would hang upon the Cross until death.

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.  Luke 23:26

The cross is that which will kill this earthly life.

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I carry a cross, laden with burdens.  I place it there at the feet of Jesus.  He died for my sins.  Why do I continue weighing myself down?  Jesus has taken it all to the Cross.  Part of the definition of cross, in Greek, is self -denial.  I deny myself, being exposed to death, reproach, suffering, trials, punishment.  I am no longer mine, but His.

I am learning as I do that which Jesus asks of me: denying things of the self, lifting up that which weighs me down, carrying the cross to Jesus Who has already taken my burdens upon Himself.  It is in the doing, the actions of denying, lifting, and carrying to Jesus that I begin to find a clearer, deeper meaning to all that He is asking of me.

ἀκολουθέω

akoloutheō

to be or become the disciple of another as to faith and practice

to follow his teaching

Following Jesus is key to my walk in this Christian life.  When I am His, I desire to be near and to know the path upon which He leads me.  I release all burdens, knowing that He is caring for me.

“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

As Your child, LORD, I depend upon You.  When I feel alone, or struggling with concerns, You are right here.  You are yoked with me.  You know my physical pain, the concerns that touch my heart regarding others, my anxiousness over provision for this earthly life.  Your grace is truly sufficient, Sweet Jesus.  Sometimes I feel wrung out and worn out.  The Word says in Matthew 27, verse 39-40: And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself!  If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’  But You hung on that Cross, LORD, and paid the ultimate price for me, releasing me to walk with You always. You have given me eternal life.  How much more could I ask?  What else is there to ask?  Forgive me when I am selfish.  Often, when I deny myself, I must turn around and deny myself again, LORD, because I am selfish.  I just am, but am also very sorry.  I carry my cross to You so that I may follow You.  “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”  (Matthew 10:38 ESV)  I do not want to be called “unworthy,” LORD.  Thank You for walking with me on this journey even when I fail You.  Your forgiveness, Your love, Your gentle nature give me the hope in this life that my physical eyes cannot see, yet the eyes of my heart know hope for You are the Hope.  I love You, Jesus.  I pray gently in Your Name.  Amen. 

befuschiasig

 

Graphic:  by American/Dutch web designer Catherine Reijans, founder of KATINK web design; https://thinkingmuseum.com/2013/10/30/thinking-museum-on-think-katink/  (but the actual think-Katink web design site is no longer connected, but I want to give her credit where it is due)

Cross:  http://www.themescompany.com/2012/04/17/cross/

From Burden to Praise

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Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me.  If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.”  This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

 “Say to the daughter of Zion,

‘Behold, your king is coming to you,

humble, and mounted on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” **

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them.  They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and He sat on them.  Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  And the crowds that went before Him and that followed Him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”  And when He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?”  And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”  Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus knew His time was near.  He knew the Scriptures filled with prophecies about Him.  He knew.

A beast of burden is a draught (draft) animal that carries or pulls heavy loads, such as a donkey, mule, llama, camel, or ox.  It can also be any domesticated animal trained to perform tasks for humans, such as a herding dog or a trained falcon.  Often, the animal will be under a yoke, teamed up with one or more of the same kinds of animals.

Jesus came into Jerusalem on a donkey, as per the prophecy in Isaiah 62:11.  The donkey, the beast of burden, carried the One Who would be carrying our burden of sin to the Cross.  Jesus came that we might be saved.  Jesus came that we be made white as snow, cleansed of our sins, for the Father.  

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”  Isaiah 1:18

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Jesus calls us to follow Him and bear our crosses.  Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  Luke 14:27

Yet He is there by our side to carry the load with us.  “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”   Matthew 11:29-30

Cast your burden on the LORD,
and He will sustain you;
He will never permit
the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22

He wants our dependence, our submission, our obedience.

All God’s plans have the mark of the cross on them, and all His plans have death to self in them.E. M Bounds

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We, as Christians, are called to help one another as He helps us.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:2

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As we approach Palm Sunday, may our hearts turn to the One Who came to this earth to save us from ourselves.  May we look to the One Who carried our sins to the Cross, cleansed us wholly, that we could be His.

“It is to the Cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master: no path of redemption can make a detour around it.”― Hans Urs von Balthasar, Unless You Become Like This Child

I have received the most beautiful gift, Father, for which I am ever so grateful.  May I never look upon a “burden” as being too much for me.  May I see Jesus yoked with me in all that I am called to do and to be.  May I remember Who the Holy One is Who used a beast of burden to ride into Jerusalem, but became the One Who carried all of the burdens to the Cross where He died a terrible crucifixion, yet He did this for me.  I praise You, LORD.  Hosanna, in the Highest.  Hosanna, oh save, I pray.  “Praise God and his Messiah, we are saved.” Hallelujah.  I rejoice in the Holy One.  You are my salvation, LORD Jesus.  You knew and you know, LORD Jesus.  You know me, Jesus.  Praise Your Holy Name.  In the Glorious Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.  

 

beblacksig

 

** Isaiah 62:11