Take Up Your Cross and Follow Him

Mat. 16:24, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘ If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himslef and take up his cross and follow Me.’


REDEMPTION. As we face the cross, the left arm points to the past. Redemption means to “purchase from slavery for a price.” On the cross, Jesus paid for our sins (2Co. 5:21), provided the gift of salvation (Rom. 3:21-24), and forgiveness of all our sins (Col. 1:14).

PROPITIATION. This word means “satisfaction”, and refers to God’s righteous penalty for sin being satisfied. God is satisfied with Christ’s death in our place (Rom. 3:25), and this sacrifice is sufficient for the whole world (1Jo. 2:2, 1Jo. 4:10). This is the arm of the cross pointing upward to God.

RECONCILIATION. Here we have the right arm of the cross pointing forward. To be reconciled means “restored to a right relationship.” When we trust Jesus Christ as our personal savior, we are “reconciled” to God. (Rom. 5:10, 2Co. 5:20). By faith we can move forward in a right relation to God.

JUSTIFICATION. Here we have word from the ancient legal system meaning “declared righteous.” This is not the same as being “declared innocent.” We have all sinned (Rom. 3:23) and we all deserve the penalty. (Rom. 6:23), but we are “declared righteous” on the basis of someone else (Jesus) paying the debt in our place. (2Co. 5:21) He willingly took our sin upon Himself, so we by faith in Him can share His righteousness. (Rom. 3:22, Phi. 3:9)

TAKING UP THE CROSS, Heb. 10:19-25

The author speaks in vs. Heb. 10:19-21 to the believer in Jesus Christ who is the possessor of three great spiritual realities. First, “we have confidence to enter the holy place.” We can “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16) in prayer. We can do this because, secondly, “we have a new and living way” which the Lord Jesus inaugurated by His death and resurrection. Finally, we have “a great high priest,” and this is Jesus our Savior. It is on the basis of these three realities that we are enabled to “take up our cross.”

PRIESTHOOD, vs. Heb. 10:22 The words “draw near” are an idiom for priestly service. The priest was first washed in a bath, then daily sprinkled clean for service. (Exo. 30:19-20; Lev. 16:4, Lev. 16:24 cf. Joh. 13:10; 1Jo. 1:9) We are washed in salvation, and cleansed by confession daily to God, and in our service we fulfill the upward arm of the cross in serving as spiritual priests to God. (1Pe. 2:5,1Pe. 2:9 cf. Rom. 12:1-2, Heb. 13:15-17)

AMBASSADORSHIP, vs. Heb 10:23 Every believer is also an ambassador of Christ Jesus. (2Co. 5:18-20) As such we are a witness to the world His power to save from sin and death. (Act. 1:8, Act. 2:32) By offering salvation to men, we fulfill the left, or redemption side of the cross.

MINISTRY, vs. Heb 10:24 Every believer has a spiritual gift (1Co. 12:4-7) and is to use it in edifying other believers. (Eph. 4:12-16) As a minister to others, we fulfill the right arm, or the reconciliation side of the cross.

DISCIPLESHIP, vs. Heb 10:25 Here we fulfill the downward side of the cross, our discipleship. As one justified by God, we are to live by faith. (Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11, Heb. 10:30) The local church is our classroom for discipleship training.


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