Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead…
Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said,â€œIf any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.â€ Â Â Â Â Â Mark 8:31, 34-38 (NLT)
It was the words â€œif you are ashamed of me and my message, then I will be ashamed of you when I return in gloryâ€ that propelled me to my feet in July 1995 toÂ stand in commitment to be Jesus’ disciple. That did not make everything in my life turn into a perfect utopia. In fact, all hell broke loose. But I can say with certainty that everything I have been through since then I have come through in victory â€“ because I had Jesus to follow. No matter what the suffering, how terrible the circumstances, whether I was rejected or â€œkilledâ€ by someone’s words or actions â€“ Jesus was always there before me. I cannot express the thanksgiving that overflows my heart for His extravagant love and comfort.
Jesus is there for tearful, intimate talks in the dark night. He shows me the Light of His promises. Jesus explains to me that in this world there will be â€œtroubleâ€ but do not give up because He has overcome this world (John 16:33). There will be a day when there will be NO MORE tears or death or crying or pain because He will come back and there will be an New Heaven that is eternal! (Revelation 21:1-4)
So, for now while I am in this world, I will take up my cross and I will follow Jesus wherever He leads because I have walked in this world without Him and I have decided that walking with Him, even with the cross, is better. So much better!
The Old Rugged Cross by George Bennard (1912) Sung by Acapella