Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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A while back I had the privilege of being in South Florida over Easter weekend. And between the meetings I was speaking for, we took a short drive out on the Florida Keys. It was Good Friday afternoon, and I saw a sight there that really got my attention. We were just cruising along, and all of a sudden we saw this small group of people who were walking along the side of the road. What was unusual was the man in front. He was carrying a large, full-sized cross on his shoulders. Well, not exactly carrying. I actually did a double-take. I might have swerved the car a little bit. The cross was on wheels.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Cross On Wheels."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from John 6. And we're going to read at verse 14. Jesus has just done this astonishing miracle of feeding 5,000 people from one lunch. It says, "After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, 'Surely this is the prophet who has come into the world.'" Well, they all follow Him when He crosses the lake and they still want to be with Him. Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for Me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill."
These are people who loved following Jesus when it was exciting and when there was something in it for them. But, when Jesus turns to them and begins to talk about His cross, something happens. Verse 51, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world." Now He's talking about flesh and blood and dying on a cross.
And by verse 66, here are these poignant words. It says, "From that moment on many of them turned away and walked no more with Him." They abandoned Jesus when the issue of cost came up. In the verses that follow, Jesus turns to His disciples and says, "Will you also go away?" And they answer, "Who will we go to? You're the only one who has anything that lasts."
This scene has actually in a sense been replayed over and over for 2,000 years, very possibly in your own life. When following Jesus gets hard, starts to hurt, to cost, we wander off. Jesus said, "If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." That's Luke 9:23. Jesus asks no more of us than He did of himself. In fact, nowhere near. But He clarifies that this is more than just believing beliefs, and going to the meetings, and giving offerings, and obeying rules, and doing some spiritual things. Following Jesus is about self-abandonment; about forfeiting the self-running of your life; doing what He says no matter what it costs. He offers a cross, not a couch.
We like to be identified with Him without it being too demanding. Like a cross on wheels! You know what? There isn't one available. Maybe you've been trying to take the soft road spiritually. You've been drawing a line with a point where you stop following Christ, where you un-follow. Maybe when you reach the point of losing something you value or when it might mean surrendering a relationship you want to keep for yourself, or changing your plans, or forsaking a favorite sin even though it's a sin that literally killed your Savior.
But haven't you found that discount Christianity is limp and powerless, boring? The real thing is found only in a total surrender to the Lord, Jesus Christ and finally letting the cross of Jesus break your heart, capture your heart, and telling Him, "I don't care what it costs, Jesus. Help yourself to me." The cheap stuff is worth what you pay for it.
Your heart is hungry for the kind of bonding with the Lord Jesus that belongs only to those who abandon safety and who abandon comfort to fully follow Him. You say, "Well, boy, it costs a lot to follow Christ, huh?" Yeah, but it costs a lot more not to follow Him. It's called a waste of life.
Remember, Jesus said, "Take up your cross daily." If you're looking for a cross on wheels, give it up. His cross didn't have any. Neither can yours.