“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?”- Luke 9:23-25 (NKJV)
O Staurós or (to translate from the Greek to English) The Cross, has been mentioned at least six times in the Gospels by Christ Himself. If John the Baptist freaked everybody out by calling them a brood of vipers after they crossed a wilderness to hear him preach, imagine the look The Twelve give Jesus after He begins His charge to them as they are sent out (see Matthew 10:16-42) as sheep among the wolves and if you refuse to take up your cross and follow Me, you are not worthy of being Mine. O Staurós, in the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, meant one only thing…death. Who’s gonna wanna follow someone who says we have to die to be worthy of being His? Guess that depends on your understanding of what O Staurós is.
To do a quick word study into the Biblical Greek, staurós is a word that means a stake, often with a cross piece, on which criminals were nailed for execution. You could just stop there and be good with that as an understanding but there are two other definitions that are used in the New Testament. One goes straight for the entire passion of Christ in which redemption came in the form of the deepest humility and not from any power or glory. The other says that pious and good men, express their portion of affliction by the action of “taking up their cross daily”, this alludes to what the Romans would have criminals do as the condemned would carry the very thing they would die on to the place that the staurós would hístēmi (the Greek word meaning “to stand…interesting)
Just to throw Tozer’s two cents in here, “The cross has gathered in the course of years much of beauty and symbolism, but the cross of which Jesus spoke had nothing of beauty in it. It was an instrument of death. Slaying men was its only function. Men did not wear that cross; but that cross wore men. It stood naked until a man was pinned on it, a living man fastened like some grotesque stickpin on its breast to writhe and groan till death stilled and silenced him. That is the cross.” So, we’re halfway through this devotional and nothing is sounding too encouraging, is it?
“The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.’” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19)
If you wanna keep looking at what the cross stands for through the lens of Secularland then, yeah, everything written so far is flat out depressing BUT and this is a big BUT, if you can see this as O Staurós tou Christoú (The Cross of Christ) then you’ve just given yourself two new ways of understanding that it’s essential that we “taking up our cross and follow”. One says that this symbol of crucifixion brought a forgiveness that you didn’t deserve and the other says that this is a symbol of great personal cost. One that Christ set forth as an example for self-denial, by losing His life for a greater purpose. What was the purpose? You.
It’s this simple, “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son.” (Romans 5:8-10) the key pieces to grab on to here without the death of the Son we can’t life in Him…and this was done while you were still at enmity with EL Elyon. Praise worthy stuff right there.
O Staurós pou se Foráei (The Cross that wears you) isn’t just a message about the forgiveness of your sin, on the contrary, it’s also about our response to God after we’ve been forgiven. To be worthy of the Creator, the One who humbled Himself to die a shameful death, our response has gotta be one that imitates the self-denial and complete surrender that Jesus Christ displayed that fateful day. A response that says there’s nothing this present and evil age has for us and that we would rather live for Him, Period. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris is a husband, a father, has an education in Biblical doctrine and is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy. He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008. You can e-mail him at email@example.com
Think About This: “A strange thing under the sun is a crossless Christianity. The cross of Christendom is a no-cross, an ecclesiastical symbol. The cross of Christ is a place of death. Let each one be careful which cross he carries.” – A.W. Tozer