He set His face to go to Jerusalem… Luke 9:51
One of the most difficult realities of the Cross is Jesus’ journey to it. He knew what was waiting for Him in Jerusalem. He had been preparing His disciples for the trial ahead. He was undeterred by their misunderstanding and rebuke. They could not conceive of Him being arrested much less killed. Christ was resolute. His path was set. He would go to the Cross. Where things get difficult for us is when we are called to our cross as well. Many people in the church today have no problem with Christ taking His Cross for us, but we have major problems when we are called to our own. Jesus says in Luke 9:23, just before Luke recounts Christ’s resolve to go to Jerusalem, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”(emphasis added) Many people in the church today love Christ until it is time to bear their cross.
Unfortunately, many of us misunderstood what following Jesus was going to be. Some of us were told that life would be better with Jesus. Some of us were told that Jesus would heal all of our wounds. Some of us came to Christ looking for His forgiveness and unconditional love. Some of us came because we needed something and weren’t finding it on our own. The message we heard was rarely, “All who are ready, come down the aisle and receive your cross.” I don’t think many churches would baptize as many people as they do with that message. Many of us came to Christ under the illusion that the road before us would be easy and prosperous not difficult and dangerous. But Christ, in setting His face to Jerusalem, has paved a different path for us.
Our journey in following Christ is not meant to be easy here. The promise for the Christian is not wealth, health, and prosperity. It’s not that everyone will like us and we will live out our days in relative peace and harmony with this world. In fact, Christ tells us that we will have trouble in this world. This trouble will not simply be that every now and then we won’t be able to purchase the new car we’ve always wanted. The trouble Jesus talks about isn’t that we won’t be able to retire at 55 or that our work won’t get a promotion. When Jesus says we will have trouble, He means we will be opposed, unwanted, hated even because of Him. If we truly follow Him, this world and those who love it will hate us because of Christ. They hated Him, why would we expect them to love us?
As we prepare to celebrate the Death and Resurrection of Christ this year, let us take time to examine our lives. Have we bought in to the lie that we can follow Jesus without having to bear our cross? Have we imagined that day to day inconveniences in life must be the cross that Jesus was referring to? Have we traded the mission of a holy God for our own comfort and security? As we reflect on the work of Christ on the Cross, may we remember that He has called us to follow Him. Our lives should reflect His. Our lives should show the immeasurable worth of Heaven over every other thing. The road will be difficult at times, but take heart, our Savior has gone before us.