Nothing without the Cross
“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” - Luke 9:23
Imagine playing your sport without a ball when one is needed. You walk 18 holes swinging a club aimlessly without once striking a golf ball. You shoot baskets without feeling the ball release from your fingertips. You drop back to throw a 50-yard bomb to a wide open receiver for a game-winning touchdown, but there’s nothing in your hand. Yes, it sounds ludicrous to do these things. It would eliminate the game itself. Most sports require a ball in order to fulfill the goals and objectives of the game. Simply put, a game without a ball is not even a game at all.
Jesus calls people to follow Him, but there is a cost involved. And, just like in those sports, discipleship has a required object, as well. It is the cross of Christ. Without it, discipleship is meaningless. If we only follow Christ when it is convenient for us, how often would we truly follow Him or be a disciple at all? The cross is central to our discipleship and in our desire to follow Him daily.
The cross is to following Christ as a ball is to golf or basketball…without it, there is nothing. Christ’s death on the cross allows us to follow Him wholeheartedly through good times and bad. And when we follow Him and take up our own “cross” in whatever form He asks, we are participating in what it means to follow Him and become His disciple. He set the example by carrying a literal cross, and we must follow by carrying our figurative cross for Him every day. This can be any number of things—sacrificing personal desires, dying to ourselves, serving others, etc. The point is that whatever cross He asks us to carry, we must be willing to pick it up. Thankfully, He provides the strength we need every step of the way.
Think about it this way. You wouldn’t be foolish enough to play soccer without a ball, so why would you even attempt to follow Christ without considering the cross? It was there that sin was defeated and life was gained—eternal life was secured through Him! In the same way, when we pick up our crosses and follow His example, He will lead us into freedom, deliverance and salvation.
Praise the Lord for the cross of Christ! May we all learn to follow His example and His calling and know that true discipleship begins and ends with what Christ sacrificed on the cross for you and me.
1. Imagine what it would look like to play soccer, baseball, football, volleyball or basketball without the ball. What would be the point? What does the ball represent?
2. What is the significance of the cross of Christ?
3. How are we to follow His example by taking up a cross of our own? What does that look like in your life?
4. Christ made the ultimate sacrifice on the cross for our sins. What do you need to sacrifice today in order to follow Him with all your heart?