Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'”
– Matthew 16:24
I believe there are two sides to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; the side of judgment and the side that leads to repentance and provides salvation. It is how we each answer the Lord’s question of “who do you say that I am” that will determine which side we are on. As a Christ-follower, we deny ourselves daily, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus. We put on the new self and reckon the old life dead, according to the Scriptures.
Jesus said His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. It has been said that a carpenter in those days was not necessarily a furniture maker but rather a maker of these burdens for the Ox. The design of which was custom fitted for each animal to avoid chaffing and provide the best leverage. It was designed to make their job easier. So it is with each disciple of Christ.
Obedience and self-denial to these truths can be viewed incorrectly. I do not believe that the cross of obedience and daily self-denial of the disciple of Christ was meant to be a heavy burden. For the person still attempting to carry the load of sin, self-denial is a burden. Obedience, however, for the Christian on the salvation side of the cross, is a privilege. Looking upon the salvation side of the cross should not make us begin sweating with anxiety because of a load we think we must carry, that burden has already been taken from us. His weight for us now is an eternity in heaven with Him.
The cross we bear today as Christians does not weigh us down, it allows us to ascend! Samuel Rutherford rightly said, “Whoso looketh on the white side of Christ’s cross, and takes it up handsomely, will find it just such a burden as wings are to a bird.” Mount up with wings as Eagles Christian because the Lord’s shed blood is our peace, and the burden of the cross is light!
“The act of committal to Christ in salvation releases the believing man from the penalty of sin, but it does not release him from the obligation to obey the words of Christ. Rather it brings him under the joyous necessity to obey!”
– A.W. Tozer