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Monday, May 6, 2013
Today’s Reading | Luke 9:18–27
Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.”
He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” (NRSV)
There are some lines I read in the Bible and I’m not sure how well they translate to modern ears. One of them is Jesus’ statement that those who wish to follow him must “take up their cross daily.” What does this mean? Sometimes I think this gets confused with some kind of invitation to voluntary suffering, and I don’t think that’s what Jesus had in mind.
My thought about what Jesus might have meant is a different. The cross was the particular burden that Jesus had to bear, just like each of us have burdens in our lives. We all have burdens to carry, such as our regrets, shame, faults—whatever it is that stresses you out, that bothers you, gives you that tightness in your shoulders and unsettled feeling in your stomach.
Something I noticed today as I read this passage is the idea that Jesus says “take up” your cross. There’s a sense of action and agency there. What I take from that is that although it is unavoidable that all of us will have burdens in our lives, we don’t have to stand still and hold those burdens. We can take them up and go somewhere with them. Like Jesus did with the cross, we can take something burdensome and, quite often, we can do something about it or learn something from it in order to make it meaningful.
Gracious God, help me to be honest with you about the burdens in my life, and where I might work through or learn from them, give me the courage to do so. Amen.
Written by Adam H. Fronczek, Associate Pastor for Adult Education and Worship
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