Thorns And Crosses

Thorns and Crosses

Thorns and Crosses:

The cross is not a beautiful object, it represented death. Yet today millions of people wear little gold crosses hung around their necks. Why? Because Jesus somehow transformed this most gruesome method of execution into something glorious.
Luke 9:22 “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. 23. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
As Jesus mentions His death in these verses we have two cruel forms of torture represented, thorns and crosses. The path He has for us seems clear here. We are to pick up our cross and follow Him. The cross He has for us should not be confused with the thorns of life, our common human inheritance. The cross is chosen willingly. We choose to pick it up daily or we can choose not to.
We tend to say of those who are ill, bereaved, or suffering financial difficulties that they “have their cross to bear.” But those unfortunate happenings are not crosses. Those are the thorns we have not chosen. In 2 Corinthians 12:7 Paul writes about having a thorn in the flesh. There is much speculation about what it was. He had some physical ailment that was uncomfortable and unpleasant. Mental and physical afflictions are to be expected in this life, they are thorns we did not chose.
Thorns are un-chosen suffering. Christ came to alleviate suffering. We can be burden-bearers with each other in our suffering. But suffering in itself is not noble. It is simply part of life. When you are able to endure a painful thorn in the flesh by the grace of God, you are a profound witness to your contemporaries. I know any number of people who have borne some of life’s most difficult thorns with courage.
But bearing your cross is quite a different matter. Your cross is not like Jesus’ cross. His cross was a literal one and He died on it to forgive our sins. He says to His disciples here and He says to us today to take up our cross daily. Our cross is that difficult thing we choose to do because we are His people. We receive grace to be brave and uncomplaining through our thorns but the glory comes as we pick up our cross for His sake.
We choose a hard place, a difficult relationship, a thankless job. We serve on a committee, or get involved with a neighbor. We do the things we don’t have to do because we feel it is God’s will for us. We say, like Isaiah, “Here am I. Send me.”

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