5 Apr 2007

Called to be Cross-Bearers, Mk 8.34-38, a "Holy Week" Meditation

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Church, Contemporary Ethics, Discipleship, Grace, Jesus, Kingdom, Mark, Preaching


Called to Be Cross-Bearers, Mark 8.34-38: A “Holy” Week Meditation

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit a them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (NRSV).

SETTING IT ALL UP

Jesus’ remarkable, indeed shocking, demand that his followers be Cross-Bearers has often been blunted by his church. A friend of mine once argued violently that Jesus was not talking about a “real” cross because he used a different Greek word than for a normal cross. I asked him were he got that notion from? Another preacher. I had to get out my Greek New Testament and show him that the word is stauron, the same word that is always translated as cross. Indeed the very term used for Christ’s place of torture.

My friend’s reaction is understandable though. Jesus’ demand is, seemingly, too heavy to bear. But it is not to be whitewashed, by my friend, his former minister, by me, or by the church. Following Jesus, being a disciple, a Christian, means to deny myself and take up HIS cross and follow him. It means being a Cross-Bearer.

To the Twelve this could only have sounded like nonsense flowing from one who might have lost his marbles! Only an insane person would talk in such a way and indeed some did make the charge that Jesus was a lunatic. Even his own brothers thought something was awry.

We, living in our civilized and modern times, have never once seen a crucifixion. They had, many times. We hide our electric chairs and gas chambers in the deep recesses of maximum security prisons. We don’t smell the burnt flesh or watch the people jerk violently as the voltage kills them. Crucifixions, however, were brutally public affairs. It was a barbaric, subhuman form of torture. Seneca, a Roman philosopher, described the death of a victim on a cross in these unpleasant terms,

Can anyone be found who would prefer wasting away in pain dying limb by limb,

or letting out his life drop by drop, rather than expiring all at once? Can any man be

found willing to be fastened to the accursed tree? Long sickly, already deformed,

swelling with ugly weals on shoulders and chest, and drawing the breath of life amid

long drawn out agony? He would have many excuses for dying before mounting the

cross.” (Quoted in Martin Hengel, Crucifixion, pp. 30f).

Men, we are told, would beg to be killed rather than be hung on a cross. To be hung naked before the world, to have your flesh eaten away by birds, the humiliation of it all . . . it was an extremely grizzly public affair these crucifixions were.

One of my greatest complaints about paintings of the crucifixion of Jesus is he is covered up. The Gospels clearly state that the soldiers gambled for his tunic which was his undergarment (Jn. 19.24). It was a naked and humiliated man that was crucified by Pilate on the tree. Christians tend to react to this information quite negatively. Is it because we are ashamed of the depth of our Lord’s degradation? The Jewish leaders certainly were. No Messiah of theirs would endure such shame. To the Greeks it was the ultimate foolishness. But Paul, the rabbi proclaimer of the Cross, said he was proud of it. Indeed, he would boast in nothing else, “May I never boast except in the CROSS of our Lord Jesus Christ . . .” (Gal. 6.14).

These followers had no romantic pictures of the cross in their heads. They had seen men literally rot on a cross. Now our Master, Jesus, says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” I can only imagine the astonishment of the crowd for two thousand years later we are still in shock.

Jesus is telling us that discipleship is more than “going to church” on Sunday morning or even making it to Wednesday nite. No, being a follower, a disciple, being a Christian means I must take up the cross and follow him. Where ever he goes, we will go. I cannot be his friend without embracing his cross. I cannot be a worshiper if I do not hold onto the cross for life. This is very heavy and challenging.

I do not mean to sound . . . well “mean!!!” I don’t want to be offensive. But I can’t find a way to take the bite out of what Jesus said. But that bite is precisely why “we” have sought so diligently in the past to soften these words of the Lord. To make them less harsh and offensive … more to our liking.

MAKING HEADWAY IN TAKING UP THE CROSS

Taking up the cross means that I literally turn “ownership” of my life over to another. I allow my life to be crucified. I let myself be killed. It means I follow him to the waters of baptism and there am nailed to the Cross with him. Paul said “I am crucified with Christ” This clearly takes place in baptism according to Romans 6.3-4. But being a “Cross-Bearer” only begins at baptism. Everyday I return to the waters of baptism in repentance and take up the cross “daily and follow him.” John Calvin, the great reformer, wrote insightfully “baptism takes only a moment to do, yet takes a life time to live.”

But Cross-Bearing is not the same as stubbing your toe, getting sun-burnt, or living with a cantankerous spouse. Taking up the cross has to do with a decision that I make, as a Christian, that might have negative consequences. If people make fun of me because I act in a disreputable manner, this is not cross-bearing. But if I get fired from my job because I refuse to go along with an unethical practice because I am a Christian, now that is Cross-Bearing. Standing up in a small town and saying that discrimination against African-Americans or minorities is anti-Christian, being motivated because Christ created and redeemed them with his blood, and someone tells you that you ought to be quiet and stop making waves . . . this is Cross-Bearing. Making decisions based upon the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives, this is the basis of Cross-bearing. It is the basis of all true Christian living.

Taking up the cross daily is the hardest and most challenging enterprise a human being can ever engage in. I am far, far, far, very far from a success story in the Cross-Bearing department. I am an utter failure at denying myself! Church going is easy. Cross-Bearing is oh so difficult. However, my failure does not change what Jesus has demanded of us. I thank the Gracious Father of Jesus for giving us the Spirit to dwell in us . . . to enable us to live as he wants. I thank Jesus that he was faithful in his cross-bearing and thus made atonement for my failure to follow him perfectly and precisely. But we are still called to follow him …

Jesus commands us to take up the Cross, this is not an option for any who wish to follow him. But in his extremely amazing grace he had poured out the Spirit so that we CAN take up the cross. Amazing, Jesus died on the cross for us, he asks us to follow him as Cross-Bearers, he knows we can never do it so he gives us the greatest source of power in the universe, the Spirit of God, to enable us to follow the Way of the Cross. What a great Savior.

Remember Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives IN ME. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2.20). He also tells us we are lead by the Spirit and it is the Spirit who crucifies the sinful nature. Jesus knew we would fail at Cross-Bearing and in his love he even took care of that.

Even though we have the Spirit to enable us to bear the cross many are still satisfied with mediocrity. Thomas a’Kempis wrote so profoundly 600 years ago,

Jesus has many lovers of his heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of his cross. He

has many desirous of comfort, but few of tribulation . . . Many follow Jesus to the

breaking of the bread, but few to the drinking of the cup of his passion. Many reverence

his miracles, few follow the ignominy of the cross . . .

But they who love Jesus for the SAKE of Jesus, and not for some special comfort

of their own, bless him in all tribulation and anguish of heart, as well as in the highest of

comforts” (The Imitation of Christ, Book 2.11.1f).

Christians, Cross-Bearers glory in the cross for Christ’s sake. The cross is the glory of Christ! We glory in it for he is worthy. We gladly bear the Cross because as a’Kempis says,

In the cross is salvation, in the cross is life, in the cross is protection from our

enemies, in the cross is heavenly sweetness, in the cross is strength of mind, in

the cross is joy of spirit, in the cross is the height of virtue, in the cross is perfection

of sanctity. There is no salvation of the soul, nor hope of everlasting life, but in the

cross.” (Imitation of Christ, 2.12.20)

Wrapping Up

This is why we take up the cross. This is why we glory in the cross.

As we go through the remainder of “Holy” Week we should examine our cross bearing. Are we living a life worthy of the Lord Jesus Christ? Don’t run from the cross, where else can we go? Jesus suffered all the horrible and unspeakable torture of the Roman cross not to make you and I feel guilty but to rescue us and make all things new. He did it because he loves you and me. He did it to set us free from legalism, sin, death, hatred and any form of bondage to Self coming between you, me and our Abba.

During the remainder of “Holy” Week let us recommit our lives to being not simply church goers but Cross-Bearers.

The artwork is by a Kenyan artist and is called “Simon Helps Carry Jesus’ Cross.”

Shalom,

Bobby Valentine

23 Responses to “Called to be Cross-Bearers, Mk 8.34-38, a "Holy Week" Meditation”

  1. Ben Overby Says:

    No doubt lots of us will be meditating on the cross and presenting a thought or two on our blogs. This is a glorious time of the year! Indeed, we are called to carry our cross. That is, we are called to live out the implications of the new humanity Jesus has called us into. We obey, unlike Adam, our Father even to the point of death. What a remarkable and seemingly impossible call! And it would be impossible without Jesus and the indwelling Spirit. Grace to you, my brother. Enjoy Easter!

  2. Messianic Gentile Says:

    Bobby,

    This is the LOST Christian message, it seems to me. I have been struggling both to understand it clearly and to endeavor its vocation. Thanks for the post.

    I get so weary of Bible discussions where we water down tough texts into what we are already doing. If they are to shape us, we must take a different form. I think we dont really do that much. I am not claiming success in it for myself, but I recognize almost complete failure churchwide.

    I request that you explain this remark more fully… You said, “it is the Spirit who crucifies the sinful nature.”

    I have studied texts carefully that tell us the spirit raises us from the dead, but I am unfamiliar with any where the spirit crucifies. Perhaps it is under my nose?

    Thanks for your guidance.

    Many blessings…

  3. Alan Says:

    For a Christian, the instruction to take up our cross is a metaphor. For Jesus it was not. He took up the literal cross to pay our debt so we would not have to pay it. We take up the metaphorical cross by giving up the pursuit of our own interests in order to follow Jesus.

    Jesus used another metaphor for the burden we are to bear as Christians–the yoke.

    Mat 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    There is a yoke, a burden to be taken by Christians. But it is easy and light. Jesus is gentle. The mercy in the gospel is that although we deserve what Jesus endured, we are not called upon to endure it. He did that for us.

  4. Tim Archer Says:

    I must admit to a bit of irritation when someone speaks of a hardship, then says, “I guess that’s just my cross to bear.” Thanks for reminding everyone of the real meaning of bearing the cross.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim

  5. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Ben we will only profit by meditating upon those days around Golgotha. We need to take the cross from the realm of thought and put into our lives.

    Mike try Romans 8.13, “by the Spirit you put you put to death the deeds of the body.” The dative is instrumental. The Spirit of God is the means of destruction the sarx’s activities … the Spirit crucifies the sinful nature.

    Alan, Jesus was indeed gentile. But he was more than that, he was at times (to use Mark Galli’s title of his excellent book) he was “mean and wild” too. In fact he was this more times than we admit. Metaphor it may be but it is not a “gentle” metaphor. Nor am I totally convinced it is in the same category as taking on a “yoke.” It might be but I am not quite convinced.

    Tim we do have a tendency to trivialize the way of the cross don’t we.

    I confess, as I did in my post, I utterly fail at this cross bearing business. Thus I cling to the cross and refuse to let go.

    Blessings brothers,
    Bobby Valentine

  6. Missionary's Missionary Says:

    thank you, Bobby, for this excellent post. I cannot articulate what I am feeling right now…without grace…how lost we would be! Love’s prayers…Dottie

  7. lisa leichner Says:

    Great post. I appreciate the time you’re putting into the posts this week to direct our thoughts to the cross. I admit my own propensity to “victimize” myself, thinking I’m bearing these horribly difficult burdens. Every Sunday I come to the table and think, “what is my suffering compared to Christ’s?”

    And I agree with Tim; I’ve never understood people using that saying either.

  8. Matt Says:

    One thing you alluded to that is often left out is the shame of it all. There is a whole pile of literature on the background of honor and shame that surrounds many NT texts that is often missed in our Bible classes and pulpits.

  9. Alan Says:

    Hi Bobby,

    Imagine one of the weary and burdened people whom Jesus invited in Matt 11:28-30. Do you suppose that, after they accepted his invitation, they discovered there was this little matter of a cross to bear, which Jesus had failed to mention? I don’t think so. Jesus was not guilty of false advertising, nor of bait-and-switch tactics. So the yoke and the cross must refer to the same thing.

  10. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Alan there was no false advertising. Jesus clearly and publicly said to those the crowd … “if any would come after me let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” That is pretty clear. In light of the thousands of crosses that littered the Palestinian countryside I have a hard time imagining folks on cringing.

    Luke emphasizes my point several different times: First, Luke 9.23-26 (parallel to our text in Mark). But later in the same chapter Luke relates a series of folks who volunteer to follow Jesus. Let me bury my Father … “Let the dead bury the dead … Let me say good by to my family … No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for … the kingdom (Luke 9.57-62)

    Yep we have domesticated Jesus. Being nice is not what got Jesus hung on a cross.

    Later still Luke relates that large crowds were following Jesus. He turned to them and said exactly as he did in ch. 9, and says what he did previously and adds a few more sugar pills

    “… hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes even his own life … And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14.25-27)

    No matter how we explain this text away it is still not a very “nice” text. Of course we agree that Jesus does not “mean” literal hate … but man those words cut do they not?

    I tell my congregation all the time we christians have piously defanged the Bible and turned it into flannel board figures. But oh what a disservice we do.

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  11. Messianic Gentile Says:

    Amen to that, Bobby.

    And thanks for the text. Are there others you know of?

    Many blessings…

  12. Paula Harrington Says:

    What a relevant post. Thanks!

  13. Alan Says:

    Hi Bobby,

    We’re not as far apart as it may seem. Still, I see the passages you pointed out as basically talking about the necessity of being whole-hearted in our response, leaving no back door. The old life is to be *over*, never to be revisited. It is put to death. Thus he uses the metaphor of carrying our cross. And thus he says we must “hate” father and mother, even our own life. We can’t have one foot on both sides.

    But then he says “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I have a hard time reconciling that with a call that requires us to suffer in the degree that he did on the cross. If that is the requirement, I have never met a person who will make it into heaven. And I doubt you have met many either. I’m hoping that is not what you are saying.

  14. Messianic Gentile Says:

    Alan,

    If your last statement is correct, then you are now seeing things much closer to the way I do. And you used it in an “if” statement.

    If your “if” statement is on target, which is somewhere in the neighborhood that I have been operating, then you can see why my rhetoric has been so stark in the blog world. I think such a passage should be sending those kinds of shockwaves through our comfort zones. I think we should be rethinking our faith at its core. I dont think any of us WANT to and I think many, if not most, of us will find such confrontation to be offensive.

    I recognize that I do not have all the answers, but I recognize also that no one else does either. I have a seat at this table of discussion too. And I keep pushing myself and others to consider total self sacrifice more seriously all the time.

    But I am also learning how that merely approaching these things in their starkness leaves us stuck in FEAR. Love casts out fear though. I image a woman giving birth, especially for the first time. There is soooo much to worry about. And before the days of modern medical wonders, the process killed mothers and babes alike quite often. But love cast those fears aside, and we can do likewise in our sacrificial lives of spiritual worship to God.

    Many blessings…

  15. Alan Says:

    messianic gentile,

    If we are required to suffer to the same degree as Christ did on the cross, then why did Jesus say that his yoke is easy and his burden is light?

    I don’t think the cross metaphor is addressing the degree of our suffering. I think it is addressing the finality of our decision. OTOH, the yoke metaphor is quite obviously addressing the degree.

    Whatever the interpretation of the two metaphors, the scriptures are both true. The conclusions drawn must embrace both. So, what did Jesus mean when he said hs yoke is easy and his burden light? Why did he say that to weary and burdened people?

  16. John Roberts Says:

    Thanks for adding to the powerful imagery of cross-carrying. I have especially thinking lately of the practical daily applications of that. Thanks for the couple you suggested.
    I have a question I need to ask you, and don’t have an email address for you. Could you email me at johnroberts@rossroadchurch.org. Thanks.

  17. Messianic Gentile Says:

    Alan,

    I recognize that you are not holding the same conclusion as me. But you did make that “if” statement. I am asking you to work with what you started. If you then still have a different conclusion, I will respect that, but don’t confuse it by moving away too quickly either.

    As for comparing yoke and cross-bearing, I am not prepared to answer you without some study and thought myself. I will do some of that and get back with you.

    However, I suspect that cross-bearing has more to do with subverting the present world order than it does with suffering for the sake of suffering or with leaving a life of “legalism” (you did not say that, but your sentiment leads me to believe you are driving at that all the same).

    I do not believe in “legalism”, I think it is a strawman we modern Christians have constructed. The Bible never uses the word, nor, in my opinion, does it reject the concept. Your statement about how “the old life is over…” suggests to me that you are dealing with these things in conjunction with the grace v. works -post reformation- mindset.

    Perhaps I am mistaken about your position, and if so, I am sure I have just muddied the water.

    Nevertheless, I will do some study comparing cross-bearing commands with easy-light yokes and get back with you. If your position sways my thinking, I will tell you so. If not, I will tell you that too.

    Many blessings…

  18. Doug Doser Says:

    Bobby –
    Great post/perspective/focus.

    As far as reconciling “my yoke is easy/burden light” with the difficult sacrifice of “taking up the (Jesus’)cross…”

    As I continue to study/pray/meditate and attempt to understand – it seems to me that, AFTER truly surrendering yourself to Christ/Kingdom of God, THEN his yoke is easy and the burden IS light.

    Once one truly surrender SELF, then the Kingdom life/yoke IS (becomes) easy. After totally surrendering as a humble servant – conflicting decisions (between worldly values and Kingdom values) become “no brainers.” Once it becomes clear who your one and only master truly is, your life direction – from the smallest to the largest decisions – become clearer and easier.

    The true difficulty is the decision/life committment to take up the Cross – surrendering self and the things of this world that we view as important because we are still in the world. Choosing to take up the Cross and follow is a diffult sacrifice because we give up the things of the world we are so in love with and feel we need. The difficulty is “letting go” and following Jesus. Once there, then comes the “easy yoke/light burden” part.

    Hopefully that makes sense.

    Again, personally I’m a long way from getting there (here), but I can see in this, the recociliation of these 2 seemingly opposed ideas.

    Take care,
    Doug

  19. Alan Says:

    Hi again messianic gentile,

    I’m not at all thinking of the old life as legalism. Far from it. At least in my case, the old life was completely unrestrained. But in Christ, God called me to put that life to death. Rom 6:2, Rom 6:6, Gal 2:20, Gal 6:14. It is not a one time thing but an ongoing process of putting to death the works of the flesh. Col 3:5 etc. The unique thing is that I must put it to death myself (with the help of the Spirit, Rom 8:13). I must make that choice. So I take up my cross daily, to crucify the sinful nature of my flesh, so that I can continue to follow Jesus.

  20. Messianic Gentile Says:

    Alan,

    Thanks for the gracious response. I have done some initial study on your script in Matt 11 and the preceding passages. And while my study is not conclusive, and I do not expect you to find my sense of it influential, I nevertheless have concluded that your case has not carried the weight it attempts. I offer my response to you in large part because I promised I would. But also because if you still think I am not understanding your position AND if you feel compelled to make me see it your way, I am open to further discussion. (However, in that case, I suggest you contact me via email by tracing down through my Blogger profile, and we let Bobby’s blog be Bobby’s blog. Of course, if Bobby chooses to host our aside on his public forum, this is his chance to speak up.)

    As I study Matt 11, my initial speculation is that by contrasting Jesus’ cross-bearing statements with his easy/light/yoke/burden statement, we are dealing with apples and oranges. These statements are not all addressing the same thing. To put them in a juxtaposition-vacuum is to ask them to perform tasks they are not intended to perform. This is the kind of thing Bible skeptics do with more blatant scripts to demonstrate that the Bible “contradicts itself.” And if we are not very careful, we will take up those same weapons like a toddler who finds an unattended loaded gun.

    By making that observation, I do not clear up my own case at all. In fact, I may step into the same trap myself as I make my own case –after all I am a novice exegete working with rusty greek skills that were never mastered fully to begin with. But it would be foolish for either of us to ignore this warning, and I think your case makes this mistake.

    Next, and in conjunction with the initial observation, I note that in the preceding chapter and in the preceding verses in chapter 11, Jesus makes a number of statements that if taken at face value and out of context will contradict the passage you are zeroing in on. The onus is on you to then reconcile the following quotes with the easy/light/yoke statement.

    See these quotes from Matthew’s Gospel…

    10:16-18 Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves…. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a ‘martyr’ to them and to the Gentiles.

    10:22 You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.

    10:25 It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household.

    10:28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

    10:34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

    10:38 And he who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

    All of these verses, which come from the page or two just before the easy/yoke verses, put the easy/yoke verses into tight tension when held in a juxtaposition-vacuum. To then contrast easy/yoke with cross-bearing scripts requires some context setting in order for the full picture to become clear. It is like putting a puzzle together. Some bits of the picture start to come clear as you put more and more pieces together. But some portions seem to go with others at first, but later as the picture starts taking hold, we find that some of the portions don’t really fit like we had initially thought. I think that your use of “metaphor” in this case is like that. And if you are not careful, you will essentially be saying that some parts of the scripture are REAL and others NOT. (I have no doubt that you do not wish to go there…)

    Of course scripture uses “metaphor” in various places, but Bible writers are familiar with Jewish uses of it and they follow those traditions whereas novice exegetes culturally removed at the distance we are, must be very careful not to impose our sense of metaphor on theirs or on texts which do not support it. Thus, for you to use it in this case convincingly with me, you must demonstrate grammatically how Matthew employs it. In my judgment, considering the previous passages attached to our easy/yoke pericope and the first-century historical record outside the Bible, I think that if there is a metaphor to be had in our passage, it is not the verses I site above; it is rather found in the easy/yoke passage. I am not prepared to make that a conclusion, but I think the prima facie case bears it out in my favor, not yours.

    On the other hand, I note that the passage your easy/yoke statement is found in is deeply apocalyptic in nature. “Apocalypse” is a dangerous word to use these days so let me be clear that I am NOT talking about the end of the world here. I am talking merely about hidden things being revealed. And Jesus statement about easy/yoke is swimming in the swirling sea of apocalyptic language. See these verses…

    10:26 Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be made known.

    And then right within the very pericope in question …

    11:25b …You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.

    11:27 All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to REVEAL

    So, having suggested that the metaphor, if we in fact have one, is the easy/yoke passage rather than the cross-bearing passage, I finally invite you to take a look at Jesus, the Kingdom of Heaven and even our present Christian faith through the lens of “EMPIRE.”

    Jesus’ entire program is about ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew). Basically, this means The Reign of God over His Creation. Jesus comes as a prophet enacting the oracles of God in his life, in his body. He comes as a Jew preaching that the present world order, not least Roman World Order, is out of joint with The Creator God’s plan for His Creation. But overthrowing Rome with violence is not an option that will be true to the Kingdom cause. Neither is compromise. Neither is ignoring the problem. Rather, the way to truly overthrow Rome (And Sin and Death in the process) is through self-sacrificial love – and particularly by bearing God’s image in that self-sacrificial love. Basically, Jesus subverts Rome by prophetically reworking an execution by crucifixion into a coronation ceremony. And the coronation of God over his Creation ushers in a day of PEACE/SHALOM that Rome, for all her power and propaganda, could not achieve.

    Easy/yoke is not a dodge of suffering. It is the goal of it. The easy/yoke must be REVEALED/APOCALYPSED amid the suffering and call to suffering. And the first 300 years of Christian history bear this out to us. Christians did not answer a “metaphorical” call to carry crosses, they answered a real call to bear real crosses and real suffering because they thought God was worth it.

    Hope this helps.

    Many blessings…

  21. Alan Says:

    Thanks Messianic Gentile,

    I think we are emphasizing different aspects of the same truth. I don’t disagree with most of what you said. And I’m content to “agree to disagree” with the rest. The latter part is more a question of emphasis than real disagreement anyway.

  22. F.deSales Says:

    WOW! That, my brother, is a powerful meditation. I learned of your blog from Dee’s interview with you. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve linked your blog in a short roundup of Christian blogs I am posting this afternoon.

    Happy Easter.

    Jay (F.deSales)

  23. Anonymous Says:

    hey bobby
    lot to think on here
    miss ya back in the land of cheeze
    jim allen

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