Jesus’ Commentary On Christianity: Part 2
In 1996, more Americans supported the death penalty than at any other point in our nation’s history, with 78% of our population favoring capital punishment. However since that time the American public has shifted their views. A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center reveals that today only a slim majority (62%) favors capital punishment. Of those who oppose the death penalty, the primary reason is that they believe nobody has to right to end another person’s life. Did you know that it’s impossible to be a Christian if you don’t support the death penalty? In fact Jesus bluntly taught that unless we regularly carry out capital punishment, we can never follow Him. You might be saying right now, “Whoa, that’s blasphemy! Jesus never required capital punishment!” Well of course Jesus never required capital punishment in the sense we typically think of…but Jesus does require that we put one particular criminal to death every day.
“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)
Jesus says here that Christianity is NOT about you! In fact, Christianity is so far on the opposite end of the spectrum that it is impossible to follow Jesus while “you” are still in the picture. Jesus gives three imperative commands which must all be in place for “anyone” to come after Him: We must 1.) deny ourselves; 2.) crucify ourselves; and 3.) follow Him. This week we’re going to take a look at Jesus’ second command for true Christianity.
Jesus commands that we must take up our cross daily. In our culture many people view the cross as a symbol of God’s love. People wear it around their necks. People stick it to the rear bumper of their car. Many get tattoos glorifying the cross with various artistic designs. In days when Jesus made this statement however, nobody would be caught dead wearing a cross necklace. Whenever we see a cross in the Bible, it’s describing a Roman instrument of agonizing death. This death penalty was considered so brutal that it was illegal to sentence a Roman citizen to crucifixion.
Many people have misapplied the meaning of “take up his cross daily,” trying to apply this verse to the individual hardships we each “bear.” Jesus isn’t talking about our own hardships here, He’s saying, “If you want to be a Christian then you have to kill yourself every day.” We looked last week at Jesus’s first command which was that we must “deny” our old self and say “I do not know this man/woman.” Well to be a follower of Jesus it’s not enough to simply reject that old person, Jesus commands us to kill that old person off. Every time we are confronted with a choice in life that pits our desires, our motivations, or our goals against those of Jesus we have to say, “Self…it’s time for you to get on your cross and die.” If we truly desire to be a follower of Christ, then we are commanded to kill that old fleshly person we used to be. We do this for the first time in baptism where we become a follower of Jesus (cf. Romans 6:1-7). However Jesus reminds us that the old person we crucified tends to resurrect themselves when worldly desires tempt us. If we want to be a Christian, we need to put that old self back on their cross and kill them daily.
Posted on September 21, 2012, in Putting On The New Self and tagged Capital punishment, carry your cross, Christianity, death penalty, discipleship, Pew Research Center, self denial. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.