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04-08-2013 - Posted by Andre Piet

images9 In Dutch we know the saying “each must carry his own cross”. What this means is that each must deal with his own setbacks and troubles. The phrase is taken from Jesus’ words which we find in Matthew and Mark, as well as in Luke. Here is the first occurrence from Matthew 10:

37 He who is fond of father or mother above Me is not worthy of Me. And he who is fond of son or daughter above Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who is not taking his cross and following after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who is finding his soul will be destroying it, and he who destroys his soul on My account will be finding it. (See also: Matt.16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; 14:27)

Remarkably, long before His death, Jesus gave a hint on how He would be slain (see Matt.16:21-24). What is also striking is that in any context, in which Jesus speaks of “taken up one’s cross,” it never is about personal setbacks, illness or other troubles. That is not a cross that one takes up. The cross that Jesus was talking about is the way of being misunderstood and ignored, which He traveled; even to the point of being misunderstood in one’s own family. Whoever speaks the word, awaits libel and pressure and possible abuse or even death. For Paul, too, it is obvious that whoever will live devoutly in Christ Jesus, will be persecuted (2 Tim.3:12). The root meaning of the Greek word for “persecution” is chase after [pursue] (2Tim.2:22). Whoever is a follower of Christ will be harassed and expelled. In connection with this, we must remember that persecution in the NT, first and foremost, came from the religious, orthodox world. It was the religious world that caused Jesus to be crucified, Stephen to be stoned and Paul to be imprisoned. All who bear witness to the truth are, within orthodoxy, undesirable and will become an outcast. It is remarkable that our word “martyr” is derived from the Greek word “marterion” which literally means “witness”. The lot of a witness is already implied in the word itself. Paul concludes his letter to the Galatians (who attached great value to religious recognition):

Now may it not be mine to be boasting, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. -Galatians 6:14-

“Crucified to the world”. Paul does not speak of cross-bearing, as Jesus spoke about it before His death. No, Paul says: I am crucified with Christ … and raised!

With Christ have I been crucified, yet I am living; no longer I, but living in me is Christ. -Gal.2:20- 

The cross speaks of God’s love that is greater than any enmity, while the opened tomb speaks of Him who abolishes death. This is the testimony for which Paul suffered reproach.