Christians and Cross Bearing
Mt. 27:31,32; Mark 15:20,21
Intro: We all know that Jesus told those who followed him that if they were going to be genuine disciples of his they would have to take up their cross and follow him. Let’s talk about this matter of the Christian and Cross Bearing.
We notice in this account that cross bearing is Personal. Simon was singled out individually from the crowd; he was to bear the cross of the Lord alone. He was not part of a group, a committee, a club or even a church.
So it is that Jesus said in Mt. 16:24= If ANY MAN will come after me, let HIM deny HIMSELF and take up HIS cross and follow me.
We do not bear the cross of discipleship as a couple, or as a family, or as a SS Class, or a congregation; we bear the cross Personally, individually. EACH one of us must make our OWN decision and our OWN dedication; our own Choice and Commitment.
No one can bear your cross for you. You cannot bear the cross of anyone else.
In this account Jesus was suffering terribly. He had already been through almost unbelievable torture. He was barely alive and his enemies were in a hurry to get him to the top of Calvary and crucify him. He was moving too slow because of his pitiful physical condition.
So, they looked into the crowd and singled out Simon and compelled him, forced him, to bear the cross of Jesus.
Simon bore this cross Physically. He actually took the cross upon his should; he bore the heavy weight of the cross; he felt the rough wood and the pressure of it.
He bore it Socially. No one would volunteer to bear the cross for it was a degrading thing; it was shameful and even scandalous. Simon became a sharer and partaker of the stigma of bearing a cross; a stigma reserved for criminals of the lowest degree.
He bore it Emotionally. Think of the emotional turmoil involved in this incident. This was a dreadful scene. It was graphic and bloody. Everyone around “didn’t want to get involved;” to be a spectator maybe but nothing more. Think of the shame Simon felt as he carried this cross. Think of the reproach he felt from those around him and think of the embarrassment he experienced.
Not only was he feeling reproach on his own behalf but no doubt he felt sorrow for this man Jesus whose body was so broken he was about to collapse. He heard the mob crying out for the death of Jesus and he heard the cries of the women who loved him and were following out of devotion. Talk about an emotional event in Simon’s life!
Cross Bearing is Practical.
It’s not just a theological issue that we discuss or debate; not just something we say we believe; not just a profession we make; bearing the cross is a Practical matter.
NO- you will not pick up a literal wooden cross and carry it everywhere you go; in your home, to school, to work, to the bank or store, to church and so on.
Still, there is a Physical aspect to Cross Bearing. People will be able to Tell that you are a Christian Cross Bearer. They will know from the way you conduct yourself that you are bearing cross of Jesus.
Remember the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and wanted to receive eternal life? Jesus knew the affections and priorities of his life and told him he lacked one thing; he needed to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor- then Jesus said, “come, take up the cross and follow me.”
Bearing the cross will change the way you Think; the way you Act; the way you Treat Others; the things you Participate in; the Places you go and the things you Talk about.
We are all called to be totally surrendered to the Lord: our spirit, our soul and our body.
So, yes there is a physical aspect to Christian Cross Bearing.
There is also a Social aspect. This world will not understand your commitment to the Lord; they will often not only question, but actually make fun of your lifestyle. There is somewhat of a social stigma and reproach in bearing the cross of Jesus.
There is an Emotional aspect of Cross Bearing as well.
Bearing the cross of Jesus as a true disciple will cause some pressure in your feelings and emotions for this is a serious matter! It is not just a matter of life and death, but of heaven or hell!
In Luke 14 Jesus turned to the multitude following him and said, “If any man come to me and hate not his father, mother, wife, children, brethren and sisters, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
In Mt. 10:38 Jesus said, “He that taketh Not his cross and followeth after me is Not Worthy of me.
In Mark 8 Jesus told those around him that whoever would be his disciple would have to “deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Jesus told them that whoever would strive to save his own life would lose it; while those who gave their lives to him for the Gospel’s sake would save them. Then Jesus asked this profound and sobering question- “For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Yes. Christian cross bearing is Personal and it is Practical, but it is also a Privilege.
A privilege to bear the cross?
A privilege to suffer socially, emotionally, even physically?
Well, when Simon was called upon to bear the cross his first reaction was probably to Pull Back into the crowd and try to hide; this seemed like something to be avoided.
BUT think about what was happening here! Simon was a common ordinary man and he was bearing the Cross of Redemption along with God’s Own Son!
This was Jesus the Christ.
This was Immanuel, born of a virgin, anointed by the HG, the only sinless man who had ever lived, the Savior of the whole world. He was the Perfect, Spotless Lamb of God who was bearing the sins of all mankind and paying the price for the world’s redemption and salvation.
He was bearing Simon’s sin!
Could not Simon bear his cross?!
Jewish writers tell of how each Jewish man would go to a wooded area and gather wood for their Passover fire to roast the lamb. Here, Jesus was bearing the Wood for a Divine Passover and Simon was now bearing a Part Also! What a Privilege!
Simon was evidently on the scene simply as a curious onlooker. He was not a devoted follower of Jesus and was not there to support and honor him.
BUT, when he was compelled to become part of what was happening it changed his life.
By all indications, Simon Became a Believer in Jesus; a Disciple of the Lord.
When Mark wrote his Gospel he records that Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus, naming them as though they were men who would be known to anyone reading his Gospel. Evidently, this Rufus, son of Simon is the man named by Paul in Rom. 16 as a man “chosen in the Lord.” So, it seems that Simon became a Believer and a Disciple after that day when he bore the cross of Jesus. His family became Christians and he had at least two sons who were known to the early church and its leaders.
It really did turn out to be a Privilege for Simon to bear the cross and it will be a Privilege for You and I also!
Bearing the cross of Jesus speaks of our Identification with Him in his Suffering. We too are willing to suffer in this world in order to be his true followers and disciples.
Bearing the cross of Jesus speaks of our Participation with him in his Sacrifice. For as he bore the cross to lay down his life for you; you bear his cross to lay down your life for him.
It’s a matter of Full, total and complete surrender to the Lord and to his Word and Will.
It’s a matter of really Knowing Him, both in his suffering and in his resurrection.
Bro. Dwain Galiher
Pastor of JHPC