The concept of "mine" is a relatively easy life dynamic for us humans. From our earliest days we can grasp the basic claim of our innate nature. From birth we are totally self-absorbed. "Mine" is the central precept of egocentric humans. There's no tutorial or app for instruction in establishing our personal boundaries around life. That part over there is yours, for the moment, until I claim it as mine. Then the collision of independent souls puts the "mine" intuition to the test. Oops! A battle of "mines"!
Long before they comprehended his talk about being arrested, tried, and crucified, Jesus talked to this disciples about taking up their cross and following him. He said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23, ESV). Yes, you can translate his words from the Koine Greek and run into one of the harder words for us to understand---stauros, translated "cross". We can play around with the term, pour through Strong's 4716 explanation of it's origin and meaning, and develop wise metaphorical application of it's usage. Still, when Jesus spoke the words his hearers would have envisioned the cross-bar of an instrument of pain and death. It was a rod that transmitted brutal suffering and pain.
For centuries people in the religion department have speculated about the meaning of this cross that every believer, according to the words of Jesus, must bear daily. What in the world is it, this cross that is mine to bear? Well, you know, none of us were there and the meaning of Christ's words must be determined by further study of Scripture. Yes, many Bible commentators, in a pay grade far about mine, have decided that this cross is the equivalent of the life suffering Christians should expect as a result of their belonging to Christ. Surely Jesus reminded his followers "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (john 16:33, ESV). The moral and ethical demand of this consideration is that the cross that is mine should be upheld with gladness and endurance. Many of our brothers and sisters question and sustain their daily walk by asking whether or not they are suffering for the name of Christ. Many more explain their ordeals and life complications as their cross to bear.
For many years i have been a proponent and instructor of the Avery Willis Disciple's Cross visual, that our cross was actually the discipline of following Christ experienced in a consistent, daily manner. This cross consisted of a personal connection to the Father through prayer and Bible study, and a connection to others through service, witness, and Christian fellowship. It was a profound and Biblical explanation of Luke 9:23. The cross that is mine consists of the discipline of walking with Christ on a daily basis. You can review the basic precepts of The Disciples Cross by clicking here.
Lately, in this particular phase of geezerhood, my understanding of the cross that is mine is more limited to what Jesus actually said, without the frills and innovative images. Surely we can agree that I do not have to be crucified for the remission of my personal sinful nature or sinful lifestyle. They are certainly grievous. But, Christ died for my sinful nature and sinful lifestyle once and for all (see 1 Pter 3: 18). That's the whole point of salvation by grace, that Christ accomplished for me that which i could not finish through my own effort and works.
The cross that is mine, at least in my limited opinion, is the self denial that Jesus identified as a central theme of my human nature. Writing to the church at Philippi, the Apostle Paul clarified the heart of Christ that should be our model of faith and life . He wrote----
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in
the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied
himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. And being
found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Philippians 2: 5-8, ESV
Jesus emptied himself, the theological ideal of kenosis. Since he is to be our example (see 1 Peter 2: 20-22; 1 John 2:6, and many others) the cross that is mine is the life-long discipline of emptying ourselves of the innate crisis of being totally self-absorbed. Self denial is the cross that is mine.
The cross that is mine is the struggle to rid myself of self gratification and seek to model my life after Christ's. And, that is what it means to be crucified with Christ, putting off the old self and putting on the new self because of the work of Christ on the cross.
It is Easter week, 2019. The message of this Easter is the same as the ones before. He died on that old rugged cross, on the hill far away, to redeem lost sinners like me. That cross comes nearer and closer when I take up my cross and follow him. And, the cross that is mine, is the life-long struggle to deny myself.
Happy Easter. Sunday is coming.