Thursday, November 26, 2009

A New Look At Taking Up Your Cross

I've been looking at the scriptures in a fresh way lately. Re-examining the interpretation of "this is what it means, is refreshing.

My associate pointed out to me the other day the scripture of Luke 9:23, "Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." He asked me if I knew what the word "take up" meant. No..I could not remember so he elaborated on it and I want to share our thoughts as we began discussing this exciting new perspective.

The Greek word for take up is "airo" from when we get our word to aerate, to give or expose to oxygen. It is important for vineyard workers to aerate the roots of the grapevines. They would have to dig the roots out of the ground, cultivate the hard packed ground and all the while they hang the roots up out of the way allowing the roots to become aerated.

Don't loose the message here. The roots were "taken up" they were given over to the fence to hang there while the vinedressers were free to do their work.

We often interpret Luke 9:23 in the light of KNOWING how Jesus died...on the Roman cross. They didn't have that interpretation because they didn't know how it was all going to play out. So what did THEY understand when Jesus said "take up" (airo) your cross?

The Greek word for "Cross" is ...stake or post. Certainly by this time the Roman Cross was well known, even though the disciples didn't realize Jesus would die that way. So when Jesus said "take up" (aerate, give over, let loose) your "cross" (stake, pole, burden, way of death...etc) what was He saying? Or rather...what did they understand Him to say?

The conversation my associate and I have had leads me to believe that Jesus could have meant Luke 9:23 to say... "If anyone wants to follow Me, he must deny (disown) himself, give up and let loose anything that would burden him down and come and follow Me.

Our previous view of the verse is a sense of "take up your cross" meaning lift up and carry something. Take on a burden. Lift up something heavy. It is something that weighs on our shoulders and presses us down...after all we have to take up our cross. It's the idea of taking something on ourselves.

HOWEVER!...this new view sees Luke 9:23 this way....instead of taking something on ourselves... it is giving up something! To take up your cross might mean to let it loose. It might mean to lift it up and give it over to God. It might mean instead of burdening us... whatever our pole or stake is that is "cemented" in the ground...we have to give it over to God....that's freedom and a light load...not a heavy burden. Do you see the difference?

That's why Jesus goes on to say....whoever will save (hang on to) his life will lose it but whoever will lose (let loose, give up) his life for Me will save it!

What better way to see what Jesus has for us than to see what Jesus meant when He says in Matthew 11:30 "My yolk is easy and My burden is light."

You can choose to see this verse in one of two ways... (1) Take up yet another burden and weight on your shoulders and just be a good Christian and "bear it" for God OR (2) Take up and give over to God anything that might hinder you from serving/following Christ.

You can be weighed down with a cross or give up your cross over to God to free you for followship. I choose to see this as a "giving over" rather than a weighing down.

What do you think?
Just a thot.