Wednesday, May 22, 2019
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” – Jesus, in Luke 9:23.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the famed German preacher and dissident who was executed by Hitler, had these excellent words to say about taking up our cross, suffering for Christ, and the joy which comes from it: “Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ, and it is therefore not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to suffer. In fact, it is a joy and a token of His grace. The acts of the early Christian martyrs are full of evidence which shows how Christ transfigures for His own the hour of their mortal agony by granting them the unspeakable assurance of His presence.
“In the house of the cruelest torture they bear for His sake, they are made partakers in the perfect joy and bliss of fellowship with Him. To bear the cross proves to be the only way of triumphing over suffering.
“God is a God who bears. The Son of God bore our flesh, He bore the cross, He bore our sins, thus making atonement for us. In the same way, His followers are also called upon to bear, and that is precisely what it means to be a Christian. Just as Christ maintained His communion with the Father by His endurance, so His followers are to maintain their communion with Christ by their endurance.
“We can, of course, shake off the burden which is laid upon us, but only find that we have a still heavier burden to carry – a yoke of our own choosing, the yoke of our own self. But Jesus invites all who travail and are heavy-laden to throw off their own yoke and take His yoke upon them – and His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. The yoke and the burden of Christ are His cross. To go one’s way under the sign of the cross is not misery and desperation, but peace and refreshment for the soul, it is the highest joy. Then we do not walk under our self-made laws and burdens but under the yoke of Him who knows us and who walks under the yoke with us. Under His yoke, we are certain of His nearness and communion. It is He whom the disciple finds as he lifts up his cross.”