#DailyDevotion Take Up Your Cross
Lent Day 15
Mark 8:34 And he called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
Deny yourself. Take up your cross. Lose your life. Not something you normally hear from the world unless it is self serving. What is Jesus talking about? Well I think you need to go up to his prophesy of him suffering, being rejected, and killed. Why is Jesus going to go through that? For some self serving goal? No. Jesus did this for you, for your salvation, because he loves you.
We are joined to Jesus by faith in baptism. We are called to
suffer with him, to participate in his sufferings. So if we are going to deny
ourselves it is for the benefit of our neighbor. Now one of the biggest ways we
can deny ourselves and take up a cross is in the same manner of Jesus. We are
called to forgive the sins of those who sin against. We are called to let it go
and let people live. Christians are not called to hold grudges. Indeed if you
are holding a grudge you are in danger of committing a graver sin than any
murder, theft or adultery. You are holding God in contempt! You don’t believe
God has forgiven you in Christ Jesus.
Now in a proper application of law and gospel you might not necessarily tell someone you forgive them if they are not sorry, if they don’t confess their fault to you. But in your heart you are called to pray with Jesus on the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” While we were still weak, sinners and enemies of God, God forgave us. If we have this faith, then this faith is going to act in kind towards our enemies or loved ones who have sinned against us.
So our cross is to die to call in our debtors and have them make good. We bear our cross when cancel the debt of sin of those who sin against us. We send their sins away from us. We let the sin go along with the rights, privileges and benefits of being unforgiving. Not forgiving others is the one thing that can get us in Dutch with God. Jesus certainly says, Mat 6:15 “but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” He also says, Mat 18:35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you [throw you into the lake of fire], if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
If you will not forgive those who sin against you, you are not denying yourself. To not forgive is to not take up your cross. To hold a grudge is to save your life only to lose it, but to forgive others from the heart to lose your life for Christ’s sake and the gospel. Having trouble forgiving people? Go to confession, receive absolution and believe the word of forgiveness there. Then sincerely pray for those who sin against you that our Father will not hold these sins against you against them but that he would forgive them.
Dear Jesus, grant us such faith in your innocent, suffering and death for our sakes that we may follow you, take up our cross and forgive those who sin against us. In your precious name we pray. Amen.