Matthew 16:24-26 NKJV “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Being Passion Week or Holy Week in the church world, it is good to be reminded of the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus demonstrated thousands of years ago during the Jewish Passover feast. From the last supper with His disciples in the upper room, the blood-sweat desperation prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, to the crucifixion hill outside Jerusalem called Golgotha, Jesus showed us what true love looked like. All of mankind was rocked forever as the stone was rolled away from the face of a tomb. And because of historical writings of Josephus, Emperor Claudius, Pliny the younger, Tacitus and four different gospel accounts written at different times but pointing to the same event, we can look back at this exact day to know when Jesus was crucified and resurrected.
But what does it look like for us to be followers of Christ? Does the teachings of Jesus recorded by Matthew indicate we must have crosses adorning our jewelry or T-shirts, or does it mean something more to “take up our cross” to follow Him? You see, the Roman cross was a bloody torture device of death for criminals of the day. So, was Jesus a criminal? According to the Jewish Sanhedrin, he was because He claimed to be the Son of God. That was it! Jesus was crucified, not for anything He did, but for who He confidently said He was. The man who came to serve others, laid down his life, paid the penalty for sin and conquered sin and death.
Jesus denied self-comfort and convenience, and in doing so, showed mankind how to love others unconditionally. How to forgive those who falsely accuse us and purpose ill-intent towards us and those we love. In a day and time when it is so common to cancel others, He chose to restore. There are so many ways Jesus demonstrated to us what it should look like to model our life after His. I am praying for each of you reading this that you find a personal connection to the story of Easter this year. To value the sacrifice shown and learn new ways to conquer the destructive aspects of this life.
John 3:16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”