Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple— Luke 14: 27.
The Lord's cross-bearing consisted in the doing of the Father's will under unfavorable conditions. This course brought upon Him the envy, hatred, malice, strife, persecution, etc., of those who thought themselves to be God's people, but whom our Lord, who read their hearts, declared to be of their father, the devil. Since we are walking in the same way that our Master walked, we may reasonably expect that our crosses will be of a similar kind to His—oppositions to our doing the will of our Father in Heaven—oppositions to our serving His cause and letting the light shine out as our Master and Leader directed.
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The cross means the untoward experiences that we must undergo, while seeking to subject our conduct to the principles of God's Word. Such conduct and no other is implied in the words "come after me." The vast majority will not even manifest such conduct in ordinary circumstances. A small minority will do it in such circumstances; but few indeed of Jesus' followers will do this in every condition. And at times this taxes their strength almost to the snapping point. Yes, if it were not for the Lord's special help, they would be unable to bear their cross. His help, freely and gladly vouchsafed, keeping them from falling, maintains them in discipleship.
Parallel passages: Matt. 7: 13, 14; 8: 19, 20; 10: 37-39; 13: 45-47; 16: 24; Luke 14: 26, 28; 18: 28-33; Acts 20: 22-24; Rom. 14: 1—15: 3; 1Cor. 9: 25-27; Gal. 5: 16, 17, 24; 1Pet. 2: 11-16.
Questions: What and how have I done with my cross this week? What was the effect?
THE CHANGED CROSS
IT was a time of sadness, and my heart,
Although it knew and loved the better part,
Felt wearied with the conflict and the strife,
And all the needful discipline of life.
And while I thought of these as given to me—
My trial tests of faith and love to be—
It seemed as if I never could be sure
That faithful to the end I should endure.
And thus no longer trusting to His might,
Who saith we "walk by faith and not by sight,"
Doubting, and almost yielding to despair,
The thought arose—My cross I cannot bear.
Far heavier its weight must surely be
Than those of others which I daily see;
Oh! if I might another burden choose,
Methinks I should not fear my crown to lose.
A solemn silence reigned on all around—
E'en Nature's voices uttered not a sound;
The evening shadows seemed of peace to tell,
And sleep upon my weary spirit fell.
A moment's pause, and then a heavenly light
Beamed full upon my wondering, raptured sight;
Angels on silvery wings seemed everywhere,
And angels' music thrilled the balmy air.
Then One, more fair than all the rest to see—
One to whom all others bowed the knee—
Came gently to me as I trembling lay,
And, "Follow Me," He said, "I am the Way."
Then speaking, thus, He led me far above;
And there beneath a canopy of love,
Crosses of divers shape and size were seen,
Larger and smaller than mine own had been.
And one there was most beauteous to behold—
A little one, with jewels set in gold;
Ah! this, methought, I can with comfort wear,
For it will be an easy one to bear.
And so the little cross I quickly took,
But all at once my frame beneath it shook;
The sparkling jewels, fair were they to see,
But far too heavy was their weight for me.
This may not be, I cried, and looked again,
To see if any here could ease my pain;
But one by one I passed them slowly by,
Till on a lovely one I cast mine eye;
Fair flowers around its sculptured form entwined,
And grace and beauty seemed in it combined;
Wondering, I gazed, and still I wondered more
To think so many should have passed it o'er.
But, oh! that form so beautiful to see
Soon made its hidden sorrows known to me;
Thorns lay beneath those flowers and colors fair:
Sorrowing, I said, "This cross I may not bear."
And so it was with each and all around—
Not one to suit my need could there be found;
Weeping, I laid each heavy burden down,
As my Guide gently said, "No cross, no crown!"
At length to Him I raised my saddened heart;
He knew its sorrow, bid its doubts depart.
"Be not afraid," He said, "but trust in Me—
My perfect love shall now be shown to thee."
And then, with lightened eyes and willing feet, Again I turned, mine earthly cross to meet, With forward footsteps, turning not aside,
For fear some hidden evil might betide.
And there, in the prepared, appointed way—
Listening to hear and ready to obey—
A cross I quickly found of plainest form,
With only words of love inscribed thereon.
With thankfulness I raised it from the rest,
And joyfully acknowledged it the best—
The only one of all the many there
That I could feel was good for me to bear.
And while I thus my chosen one confessed,
I saw a heavenly brightness on it rest;
And as I bent, my burden to sustain,
I recognized mine own old cross again!
But, oh! how different did it seem to be,
Now I had learned its preciousness to see!
No longer could I unbelieving say,
Perhaps another is a better way.
Ah, no! henceforth mine own desire shall be
That He who knows me best should choose for me;
And so whate'er His love sees good to send,
I'll trust it's best, because He knows the end.
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