In city planning the path to success is to figure out how to make your city a destination. Millions fly to Orlando—why? Destination: Disney World. Thousands traveling to Santa Clara. Why? Destination: Super Bowl. These prime destinations promise life, dreams, escape, pleasure, power, and success. The Gospel of Matthew, on the other hand, presents Jerusalem as its destination, more specifically, Golgotha
In March millions of Christians will remember Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday, but the first time Matthew, the tax collector, uses the term “cross” he quotes Jesus’ words and the focus is on our own cross and the need to follow Jesus.
“Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it. The one who loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:38
Because of the Roman terror tactics, Jews in the first century knew exactly what Jesus meant when He talked about taking up their cross. They had seen thousands of rebels against Roman rule pick up the beams of their crosses and carry them to their execution. Matthew’s account will climax at Calvary, but here, the first time the phrase is used, Jesus uses the idea of picking up my cross daily to challenge me to give up my claims to my life and give Him absolute allegiance. I must follow Him to where He is going, and He is headed not for Disney World or the Super Bowl. He’s going to the cross. The great paradox is that I find my life not by clinging to it, but by giving it up to Him. In the end His final destination is not Golgotha, but the empty tomb and life at the right hand of His Father.
Lord, as I work out in the gym today I see young and old sweating and striving to cling to life. Our culture worships youthful, toned bodies with six-pack abs, and carved lines. In the funerals that I do, however, I see that all that exercise, plastic surgery, and then a little make up from the morticians produces some of the most beautiful corpses the world has ever seen. Deliver me from the lie that this present physical life is all there is. Help me stop clinging to this life, take up my cross, and follow You knowing that You alone can lead me through death and give me breath that lasts forever.
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