The Cost of the Cross

Mark 8: 34—9:1
Gn 11:1-9 / Ps 33

If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
(Mark 8:34)

The values on which we now depend
Will determine our final goal. . .
What profit is there to gain, my friend,
If in the end we lose our soul?

Jesus called to Himself the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” And He said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” (Mark 8: 34 – 9:1)

Reflection

“Bearing one’s cross” can have a wrong connotation for most of us. What usually comes to mind are trials and sufferings that we are compelled to endure, like a debilitating illness such as cancer or emphysema, or a son who is addicted to drugs, or a business on the verge of bankruptcy, or even a failed or unhappy marriage. But these are not the kind of cross that Jesus meant for us to take up in order to follow Him. It is in denying our dreams and desires for the pleasures, power, and privileges of this world for the sake of the Gospel, and for the sake of His kingdom. Our trials and sufferings can also be crosses in life, but they only gain significance if we lift them up to God in full trust and confidence in His plans for our life.

Jesus showed us that ultimately, the essence of the cross is love. Taking up the invitation of Jesus to carry our cross to follow Him reminds us of the time when we were children, and had to take bitter medicine when we were sick. Much as we hated the medication, we obeyed our parents because we believed they loved us, and trusted their word that we would get well. From then on, we have learned to value obedience and sacrifice. Now as mature Christians, knowing that our Lord Jesus carried the cross of our sins when He was sinless and not accountable for them makes the cross of our own sins a lighter one to bear. How then can we not believe Him when He tells us that by carrying our cross and denying ourselves of the nice things of this world we are safeguarding our greatest treasure?

Yes, the road that leads to eternal life is not easy, and only a few find it. But just as the riches of this world are won by only a few who are willing to work hard and endure many sacrifices, so also must the treasure of heaven be only for those who are willing to take up their cross, and surrender everything for the sake of that Pearl of great prize.

Lord, what value are these material things to me if they do not help me find my way to Your kingdom? Help me to unburden myself of all worldly attachments and be willing to take up my cross instead to follow my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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