"Deny yourself; Take up your cross and follow me…"

Taking up the cross and following Jesus… “This is my cross to carry” is a term often quoted by Christians to describe the presence of an unwanted, unpleasant, or unfortunate ongoing present situation(s) in their lives that they are dealing with. A term, culled from these scripture verses:

Luke 9:22-24
22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.
23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it

And a term, which I once thought apropos, until The Lord started showing me some truths from the Word that debunked this theory which brings to mind a daily drudge of endurance, and I daresay defeat or resignation to a particular set of circumstances while awaiting ultimate deliverance from The Lord, not in this life, according to that philosophy, but in the life to come.

Because of what the Lord revealed to me, I did a study The Cross and the process, indication and consequences of crucifixion and this is what I found:

Crucifixion is a method of deliberately slow and painful execution, in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead. It is principally known from antiquity, but remains in occasional use in some countries.
The person executed may have been attached to the cross by rope, though nails are mentioned in a passage by the Judean historian Josephus, where he states that at the Siege of Jerusalem, “the soldiers out of rage and hatred, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest.”Objects used in the crucifixion of criminals, such as nails, were sought as amulets with perceived medicinal qualities.
While a crucifixion was an execution, it was also a humiliation, by making the condemned as vulnerable as possible.
Although artists have depicted the figure on a cross with a loin cloth or a covering of the genitals, writings by Seneca the Younger suggest that victims were crucified completely naked When the victim had to urinate or defecate, they had to do so in the open, in view of passers-by, resulting in discomfort and the attraction of insects… *

So in essence crucifixion was the most public form of humiliation, expression of public derision, and physical torture that there was…

I, then came to the conclusion that while ‘Taking up one’s Cross’ and following Jesus for the Christian involves pain and sacrifice, it is not from a stance borne out of resignation and defeat until delivered from the flesh, but rather from a stance of bearing the scourge, public humiliation, derision, and mockery of men openly, while unashamedly declaring God’s Word as truth, rather then what present reality dictates.

Denying self

Jesus spoke about suffering many things and being rejected by His own. We read of some of those things in the Bible… The mockery, the jeers, the beatings, and the scourging… We could never have suffered what The Lord went through without lashing out once, BUT THAT IS WHAT HE HAD TO DO!!! He had to DENY SELF SO THAT HE COULD APPREHEND THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM – OUR SALVATION.

So what does it mean to deny self?

According to the Strong’s reference number in that verse, it means to affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone, i.e. to deny allegiance to the flesh – all that is seen, touched, heard, tasted, or taken in…

This is what the book of Hebrews records:

Hebrews 12:2
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God

So the endurance of The Cross was wrapped up in ‘enduring HORRIFIC and public shame’, for the sake of the joy set before Him.

So I ask you today – What is the joy set before us? Jesus’ joy was to “sit down at the right hand of the throne of God’ as the Bible says, walking blameless, to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins – enduring the physical and soulical burden of The Cross and its shame; And ours is to apprehend His promises in The Word, by enduring the physical and soulical burden of the scorn of men as we boldly declare what The Word states as truth, even when blatant reality, the scourge of man’s tongues and sometimes dizzyingly physical thrusts, come at us strongly.

This we find said of the saints in the ‘Hall of Faith’, that God was not ashamed to be called their God: for he had prepared for them a city, even though the world mocked them till the end, They ‘carried their cross’!

Hebrews 11:13-16

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Let us also see an example of how The Patriarch of Faith Abraham and his wife Sarah ‘carried their crosses’

Genesis 17:4-6

4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

In the scripture, we see how God renamed Abraham from his former name of Abram. From Abram which means ‘Exalted Father’: a lofty yet unproductive name, to Abraham The Father of many nations: THE NAME THOUGH STILL EXALTED, INDICATED SUPREME PRODUCTIVE CAPACITY!

No one however was privy to this conversation between Abraham and Yahweh, and no one therefore had understanding of what it meant when Abraham changed his name from Abram to ABRAHAM. So,imagine this scenario – The ‘Exalted father’ and the ‘Quarrelsome’ or the ‘Diva’, now started calling themselves ‘Father of many Nations’ and ‘Noblewoman’ or ‘Princess’. What spectacle of mockery would have ensued?

Here is an excerpt from Dr. David Yongghi Cho’s book ‘The Fourth Dimension’ that clearly illustrates this point:

The Bible says God raised the dead. That means that God performed miracles, calling “those things which be not as if they were.”Abraham was one hundred years old, and Sarah was ninety. They had a clear-cut goal—to have a son. They had a burning desire to have this son, and they prayed for twenty-five years. Eventually God gave them a promise, and when they received the assurance, God immediately changed their names: “You are no more Abram, but Abraham, the father of many nations; and you should not call your wife Sarai, but Sarah, the princess.” Abraham protested to God, “Father, people will laugh at us. We don’t even have a puppy in our home, and you mean you want us to
change our names to ‘father of many nations,’ and ‘princess?’ My! All the people in town will call us crazy!” But God might have said, “If you ever want to work with me you should do as I do. I call those things which be not as if they were, and if you don’t speak boldly as if you already had what now is not, then you are out of my category.” So Abraham changed his name. He came to his wife and said, “Wife, now my name is changed. I am no more Abram, but Abraham, ‘the father of many nations,’ for God changed my name. Your name is no more Sarai; but Sarah.” Evening came and Abraham was walking far down in the valley. Sarah prepared a meal, and she called to her husband, “Abraham! The supper is ready,” those phrases reverberating throughout all of the village. The village people stopped working. They probably said, “Listen! She is calling her husband Abraham, ‘the father of many nations!’ Oh, poor Sarah! She wanted to have a child so badly in her ninetieth year that she’s started calling her husband ‘the father of many nations!’ She’s lost her mind. Oh, we feel sorry for her.”

Then suddenly they heard a big baritone sound from the valley. “Sarah, I’m coming.” “What?!” they probably murmured,“Sarah, ‘the princess, the mother of many children?’ Oh, he’s in the same boat! They’re crazy together.” But Abraham and Sarah ignored the criticism of the villagers. They talked back to each other: “the father of many nations,” and “the princess.” And exactly as they called each other, exactly as they gave affirmation, they had a beautiful child, Isaac, meaning, “smile.” Brothers and sisters do you like to see a smile? Do you like smiles in your home? Do you like to have a smile in your businesses and churches? Use the law of faith! Then you can see the birth of Isaac again and again in your life. **

So what does it mean for me to ‘Deny myself (i.e. my ego), and take up my cross’? For me, it may mean preaching the gospel of Christ in season and out of season, though it is not ‘PC’ to do so, it may mean the speaking of, and demonstration of the truth of God’s kingdom even if it makes me a laughingstock, It may be declaring myself to be the married mother of twins, and bestselling author and teacher, even though other eyes have not yet seen it as so; To you, it may mean buying a crib for that child or children your ‘eyes’ have ‘seen’, even though other eyes have not yet seen it as so; Yet again to you it may mean registering your company and or product, and declaring that it is a household name, when other eyes have not yet seen it as so, and therefore, laugh you to scorn… What do we do? Do we just throw up our hands, give up and go home to lick our wounds in the privacy of our homes? NO!!! We stand firm on our Rhema Word, we ‘Deny our flesh’, our ego and carnal senses that serve to discourage, and shame us because of the lack of physical evidence of our status at God has shown us – Wife, mother, successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, and we ‘take up our cross DAILY’, our substance of things hoped for and our evidence of things not yet seen by speaking and declaring what we have seen and know, following Jesus – The author and finisher of our faith… Halleluyah!

Luke 9:26
26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory,and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

Hebrews 11:6
6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him…

© AdePero Mettabel, 06/24/13.

* From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
** Excerpted from ‘The Fourth Dimension’, Dr. David Yongghi Cho

A few questions to ask ourselves:

• Are we willing to follow Jesus if it means losing some of our closest friends?
• Are we willing to follow Jesus if it means alienation from our family?
• Are we willing to follow Jesus if it means the loss of our reputation?
• Are we willing to follow Jesus if it means being exposed to public ridicule?
• Are we willing to follow Jesus if it means losing our jobs?
• Are we willing to follow Jesus if it means losing our lives?

Following Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean all these things will happen to us, but are we willing to take up your cross? If there comes a point in your life where we are faced with a choice—which will we choose?

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