Crowds look on. The accused has been convicted of a crime he did not commit. The jury did not take long to deliberate. Actually to be honest, this wasn’t a jury at all.

Step after step, he makes his slow, agonizing journey towards death row. Some are calling him a hero, while others can’t wait to see him die. This short legal process has felt like a lifetime. He’s tired, thirsty and, most of all, he has an incredible amount of pressure on him--a heavy, raw, horizontal, wooden beam attached to his back that is stretching his arms.

It’s unsteady. It’s uncomfortable. It’s his passion. It’s our hope. It’s his cross.

In a Luke 9:23-24 Jesus tells his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (vs 23). Take a moment to reread the first three paragraphs. Then, read this verse again.

Wow, does he really mean...? What happened to the, “he makes me lie down in green pastures” or “He leads me beside still waters” or “he restores my soul”? What does a cross have to do with any of that?

Honestly, this is the attitude many Christians take. We want the peace and the joy that comes with our faith but none of the burden that brings about peace and joy. It’s more comfortable to call people to a faith where they will be free from the burdens of life, but we fail to explain about the burden of joy.

The cross was a sign of certain death--and in the case of the death of Jesus, it opened the way to peace, hope and joy. Had Jesus not carried that cross, our fate would be the judgment of God, because our sin is rebellion against his righteous standard. Jesus suffered the wrath on our behalf through death on the cross, so that our fate would be peace with God and eternal life with him.

Then he throws a twist. Those who would follow him and receive this gift must also carry their cross. They too must be willing to humble themselves for the sake of others. They too must be willing to die, so others may live. Not to save people, but so some may receive the joy of salvation through their sacrifice.

Let me ask you, the reader, this: What are you willing to lose for others to gain salvation? Essentially are you willing to die to see others live? In other words, are you willing to take up your cross?

How are you doing with this taking up your cross thing?

It’s unsteady. It’s uncomfortable. It's burdensome. But the result is so joyful.