When you get to the hard stuff, slow down. And nothing feels harder than being told to die.
Jesus says he is going to be rejected by all legitimate authority and then he is going to die. Then he says, follow me.
Mark 8:34 (NIV)
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
I can think of few things I dislike more than denying myself and carrying my cross. But I gotta follow Jesus! I can’t imagine life without him. He is love made real.
Why would love made real tell me to trudge to my own death?
I used to think the picture of this verse was Jesus with his big ol’ real cross and his followers with their smaller crosses. Then I realized that when he tells us to take up our cross it is the back end of the Cross he carried to his death. He carried my cross up that hill. When he tells me to pick it up he is just telling me to participate as a pedestrian observer in a drama he played out for real and keeps.
Imagine my cross without him.