Cross-bearing

Excerpt from Delight in God’s Law by Brother John Carter, page 124

Jesus calls upon his followers to be cross-bearers. They must follow him in taking up the cross. What did he mean? Quite clearly the literal is excluded: he does not mean that all his disciples must carry a stake of wood and be hung upon it. Yet there must be a meaning that it is essential we should understand.

Coupled with taking up the cross, and explanatory of the phrase, Jesus calls upon the disciple to “deny himself”. This language has been largely emptied of its meaning by its use in connection with “self-denial” weeks, and the voluntarily imposed restraints that some people practice during Lent. These people deny themselves of something – it may be good to do so, but that is not the meaning of Jesus: he demands denial of self. If we print the word with a capital, “Self”, we then see more clearly that Jesus means by Self the instinctive waywardness of human nature which expresses itself in self-will. To deny Self means to enthrone God as the ruler of life: it is to say with Jesus

“not my will, but thine, be done”.

But there is even more than that. Self has to be denied; but it has also to be condemned, and like one condemned has to bear the cross. Paul gives us the meaning when he says

“our old man is crucified with him that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:6).

Self is the “old man”, the body of sin; this is crucified “with him”, and there is a change of masters, from sin to righteousness. In these words “with him” Paul expresses the same idea as Jesus did when he said

“Let him follow me”.

There is identification, springing from a recognition of Jesus as representative and leader. Therefore what he did in crucifixion in fact, is what his follower does in principle. Sin’s flesh is repudiated; God’s law, God’s righteousness, is upheld, while Self is dethroned. Paul puts it beautifully when he says Jesus did not grasp equality with God, but took a bondslave’s form and became obedient even to the death of the cross. There is no intrinsic merit in crucifixion; but in the crucifixion of Jesus there is the vindication of a divine rule that God must be supreme, in the voluntary laying down of his life.

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From

Delight in God’s Law

A collection of essays has been culled from The Christadelphian magazine of which the author was Editor from 1937 until his death in 1962. The selection includes twelve editorials, eight exhortations, and nine articles; one comprising a nine-part series called “Many parts and many ways”, and another, a four-part series on “Bible echoes”.

The essays are drawn from virtually the entire period of his editorship, the earliest being from 1942 and the latest from 1960. Through them, we are left in no doubt of the author’s reverence for God and love of the scriptures.

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Preceding

Worthy partakers of the body of Christ

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Additional reading

  1. Looking for True Spirituality 1 Intro
  2. The meek one riding on an ass
  3. To follow Christ
  4. Redemption #7 Christ alive in the faithful
  5. 9 Adar and bickering or loving followers of the Torah preparing for Pesach
  6. Trying to Get Rid of Holy Days for a Long Time
  7. Lent, 40 days, meditation and repentance
  8. Lenten Season and our minds and hearts the spiritual temple in which God seeks to live
  9. Kel Hammond on Faith, grace and works

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