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In the Shadow of the Cross

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.” (Luke 9:23)

Whom Say Ye That I Am?

As you read the following scriptures you will find Jesus Christ revealing to His disciples distinct truths that would become a part of the foundation of Christianity. These revelations are at the heart of true Christian living for every disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus would reveal these as He stood in the shadow of His cross.

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged He His disciples that they shall tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ. From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took Him, and begin to rebuke Him saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, Satan: for thou art an offence unto Me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto His disciples, if any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:13-26)

We see here, first of all the response of Peter, to the question put to the disciples by Jesus. “Whom say ye that I am.” His answer is one that is characteristic of every true child of God. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Blessed Are You That Truly Know Him

Jesus calls Peter blessed, because this was not revealed to him by flesh and blood, “but by My Father which is in heaven.” This is the dawning of a new day, in which man’s understanding would be opened by the Father, to know who Jesus Christ really is.

At this point, Jesus reveals to His disciples that He will build His church. “I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The truth about who Jesus Christ was is the very foundation on which the church is built. Take away this truth itself, and the church falls to the ground. Take away the faith and confession of this truth from any church and it ceases to be part of Christ’s church. The truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God is the very hinges on the door that leads to salvation.

Hell Shall Not Prevail Against His Church

The building of His church is a progressive work, designed and completed by Jesus Himself. He is the chief Cornerstone and Builder of the body of believers in which He call His church. Although the enemy will roar as a lion to devour His church, Jesus Himself said, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

The very gates that Satan determines to use to impede the progress of Christ’s church, will be over ran by the very truth of Who Christ is, “the Son of the living God.” Faith in this truth, and adherence to its requirements of every child of God, will prevail against the enemies of His church.

It is in the midst of these two revelations, that Jesus Christ begins to reveal to His disciples, the teaching of the cross. He begins to show them for the first time how He must suffer, and be killed, and be raised again on the third day.

Jesus Himself knew that He would suffer. As the disciples had advanced in their knowledge of Him, and now knew and confessed that He was the Son of God, Jesus would expose them to the part of the gospel that would hit hardest at the heart of selfish mankind. The teaching of the cross would strike at the very root of mankind’s self-preservation. The teaching of self-denial and self-repudiation has now been brought forth by Jesus Christ.

Jesus had previously addressed the fact of having to bear a cross when He instructed the twelve apostles to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.”(Matthew 10:38-39) But now that teaching comes closer to home to His disciples, and their initial response to the cross-life was one we have learned to expect.

The Cross-Life Denies Those Things That Be of Men

When Jesus began to talk about suffering and dying, Peter immediately rose up. “Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.”

Here we see the first reactions of man to the cross, when as yet they were still in the shadow of it. Although Peter could receive the revelation of who Christ was, the cross and its sufferings were another matter altogether. Peter had just confessed that Jesus was the Son of the living God. But now, with the reality of the cross pressing down upon him, he was able to rebuke this same Jesus.

It’s amazing how quick the natural, fleshly man rises to its own defense. The mention of the cross, and denial, and death brings forth a devilish attack from Peter against the things of God. The old man looks for every avenue of escape so that death on the cross would not end its dominion of the heart.

Jesus knew immediately where the attack came from. His response to Peter was meant to awaken him to the reality of the battle which rages between good and evil. “But He turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, Satan: thou art an offence unto Me: for thou savourest not the things of God, but those that be of men.”(Matthew 16:23)

Man is born a rebel, and society covers well the fact that he is. The assertion of self and selfish desires become a very natural thing. Our western society with all of its customs and temptations beckon you to a life of self-indulgence. We say we want to be saved, as long as self does not have to be dethroned, and can remain king in our little kingdom.

Satan Has Introduced A New Cross To the Church

In the church today, we have for the most part, accepted a “new” cross. This cross does not slay the sinner, it only redirects him. It allows the old Adam to live without very much interference. It leads man into a lifestyle of cleaner and happier living, while saving himself from all self-denial and humility. This new philosophy and new preaching allows the old man to enjoy some of the old habits without conviction. This “new” cross allows Adam’s proud flesh to enjoy this “Christian” journey.

Jesus knew exactly why Peter rebuked Him. “Thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matthew 16:23B) Peter embraced not the cross of Jesus, but rather that which would preserve those things that be of flesh and blood. He wanted to be saved as long as he could retain an element of the world to satisfy his selfish desires.

But the cross of Jesus would have no connection or close association with the world. When Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Satan, get thee behind Me,” He knew He must die so that we might live. He knew the truth of the cross was the heart of the Christian life. He knew those who would belong to Him, would have to take their cross personally and live for Him, rather than for themselves.

Jesus established some absolutes in the life of every Christian that would walk in His example. He takes this opportunity to direct His disciples to the necessity of the cross. “Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24) “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.”(Luke 9:23) The cross is to be a way of daily life for every true follower of Jesus Christ. The denial of self and death to the old man should be the principles which govern our lives. “Whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”(Matthew 16:25B) Put to death self-importance, self-advancement, self-dependence. Take up your cross, rise up early, seek the face of God until self is no longer king, but Jesus Christ reigns supreme in your heart.

There Are No Shortcuts To Revival

We are being told today in many circles that we are experiencing “Pentecost.” Don’t misunderstand, I praise the Lord for all that God is doing wherever there is a hunger for righteousness. But when one looks closely at what most are calling revival of Pentecost, we see very little if any of the cross-life. If anything, we see the idol of self being exalted as the cross-life seems to be old fashioned and passed off as not really needed. “Pentecost” without the cross becomes humanism (self on the throne).

If the church of this hour is going to experience a real “Pentecost,” we had better embrace the cross and dethrone self once again. “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink (that which feeds the outward man), but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Our attitudes had better be that of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as He stood in the shadow of His cross.

Look at the conspiracy against Jesus as He stands just hours away from His cross. “Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. And the chief priest and scribes sought how they might kill Him; for they feared the people. Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of twelve. And he went away, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him unto them in the absence of the multitude.” (Luke 22:1-6)

Jesus is now standing in the very shadow of His cross. The betrayal is already in progress. In just a matter of hours, Jesus Christ would choose to take up His cross. “He carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8B Amplified)

It would be one of the most dreaded conflicts with the powers of darkness. The most terrible hour that a man had ever encountered awaited Jesus. Jesus was about to drink the cup of righteous wrath against sin. That cup would be full of our own sins. He would suffer as no man has ever suffered: the agony, the bloody sweat, the betrayal, the desertion of His disciples, the pain, the turning away of the Father, the sins of all mankind awaited Him as He approached His cross. Yet, in the shadow of all this He chose to teach you and I how we should stand. Inclosing, let us look at several examples He gives us of how to take up our cross.

1. Jesus Desired to Commune With His Disciples

“…The Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread.”(1 Corinthians 11:23) Even as Jesus was knowingly being betrayed He would take bread with His disciples. “And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. And He said unto them, with desire, I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”(Luke 22:14,15)

In the shadow of His cross, Jesus earnestly and intensely desired to commune with His disciples. His heart was set upon embracing His own before He suffered. He had a longing in His heart for intimate fellowship even as He faced the suffering and death of His cross. We should apply this in our lives as we stand in the shadow of our daily cross instead of complaining about our cross; instead of allowing self to say no to the cross, we should allow our cross to bring us to an intimacy with Christ. We should allow the cross to dethrone self and stir a hunger in our hearts to truly commune with Him.

2. He Served With Thanksgiving

And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, an gave unto them, saying, This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19) In the shadow of His cross , He gave of Himself with a heart of thanksgiving. He served His disciples with a spirit of thankfulness.

Shouldn’t we, as we face our cross of self-denial, embrace our circumstances, as well as those around us with the same attitude? Shouldn’t we follow His example, in the shadow of our cross, by having a humble, giving and thankful spirit that would bring glory to His name?

3. He Prayed For the Needs Of Others

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethen.”(Luke 22:31, 32) In the shadow of His cross, He reached out in prayer for the needs of others. He had compassion and mercy on Peter, praying for his conversion and strength.

As we approach our cross, we should allow it to help us lose sight of ourselves, and see the great need of others around us. We should let selfishness be crucified, and embrace the needs of others in fervent, righteous praying, until God moves in their behalf.

4. He Worshipped

And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.”(Matthew 26:30) In the shadow of His cross, He began to sing and praise God. Jesus elevated worship to a level never experienced.

When are we going to apply His example to our lives? Instead of looking like a castaway, or allowing ourselves to be of a sorrowful spirit as we approach our cross; why don’t we rise above the natural tendencies, and in spirit and truth, worship the Lord Jesus Christ? Why don’t we embrace the cross as He did, with a joyful spirit, full of worship and adoration?

5. Not My Will, But Thine Be Done

Father, if thou be willing remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine be done.” (Luke 22:42) In the shadow of His cross, He embraced the will of God for His life.

Oh, that the children of God would follow this example of their Saviour, and determine to know nothing, but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. We should follow Him, as He chose not His own will, but, the will of His Father.

Years, I spent in vanity and pride,
caring not my Lord was crucified,
knowing not if was for me He died on Calvary.
By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
till my guilty soul, imploring, turned to Calvary.
Now I’ve given to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my king,
now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary,
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span, At Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
pardon there was multiplied to me;
there my burden soul found liberty, at Calvary.

At Calvary” – Wm. R. Newell.

I pray that you will follow Jesus in The Shadow of His Cross!