February 13 – Today’s Readings – Mark 7-9 and Psalms 43
Mark 8: 34-35 reads; “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
Now come with me to Ephesians 2: 4-6; “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,”
What is all this talk of dying, taking up a cross, and being “raised” with Christ? It all has to do with a spiritual truth – that of having only one way out from the “Kingdom of Darkness”.
When we “get saved” or are “born again”, we experience “a death” to ourselves so that the “spirit-man” inside of us can live in Jesus. The cross we are to carry is simple – we completely identify with Jesus and the tremendous price He paid when He died on the cross. His cross becomes our cross, His death becomes our death and His resurrection becomes our resurrection. We die to an old life where we were held captive in a kingdom of sin and we are raised with Christ to be born a second time spiritually. Ephesians says we then are seated with Christ. This too is a spiritual thing where we are no longer captives but are free – and sitting in a victorious place. After all, where is Christ seated if not in a position of supreme authority!
Yes we lose our lives, but we gain genuine life. Of course we lay down our rights but we gain real authority and freedom. By consent, we no longer go our own way – but we acquire access to the only true way, that of following Jesus.
We can’t have it both ways. We either receive Christ by grace and faith or we continue on trying to live for two masters. It is impossible to please God unless we have faith – faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and faith that we now live in Christ, identifying with His death on the cross and His resurrection to eternal life. We can’t serve God in this way and still have our focus on the world and the sin which can so easily entangle us.
What is the conclusion of this matter? Live in Christ and you will drawn irrepressibly to doing the right thing – He has delivered you from all sin that held you down. Follow Him and you will not want to follow another.
1. What does it mean to you personally to “take up your cross”?
2. What does it mean to you personally to “be seated with Christ in heavenly realms”?