The Cross & the Crown

I had a slightly daunting task last Wednesday -- I had to try to explain Luke 9:60 to a class of Kindergarten, first and second graders:

                     Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead,
                    but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

It was a used in the curriculum as a rather difficult example of how to be a leader.  Certainly not the right verse to illustrate the point for five to seven year olds.  But my co-teacher Tina and I work with what we’re given and we were able {thankfully!} to drive the point home with some more obvious object lessons.  Whew!

What’s most interesting to me is that while I was preparing to teach this lesson to the little sweethearts in my church class, I began to realize that God was really trying to get MY attention regarding a very important detail of this particular scripture.  

 In a way, it really is the last half of the Christmas story.

The verse is from a part of Luke’s writing that talks about Jesus’ ministry on the way to Jerusalem and the cost of following Him.  Along his journey from northern Israel to the city of Jerusalem, Jesus has people coming up to him saying that they want to follow him – both literally and figuratively follow him.  So Jesus says to each of them, “Follow me.”  But each person has some excuse for not immediately following him.  One man says he must go bury his father first – thus Jesus’ response is cited in Luke 9:60.  Another man says he wants to go say goodbye to his family.  To that man, Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

Now, Jesus’ responses to these men seemed kind of harsh at first glance.  Kinda hardcore.  But I realized that Jesus was testing them to see if they were really committed to being a Christ follower.  From that very day to today, there is a cost to following Jesus.  When we are called to serve Him, we must be ready – even if it requires sacrifice.  And it surely will involve sacrifice. 

As my life application Bible states, we can’t follow the Lord half-heartedly or selectively.  We must commit ourselves to him COMPLETELY.  If you choose to accept the crown through his divine conception and birth, then you have to accept the cross of his sacrifice and death.  The crown and the cross – you can’t have one without the other.  You must accept His judgment as well as His mercy.

In this world, that cross can sometimes seem too big a burden for us to bear.  It may be too inconvenient, too irrational to our modern day ‘sensibilities’, or too confusing to understand.  I know.  I’ve been there.  Haven't we all been there?!?

But I believe that God sent a small baby to become the king of my heart and the king of ALL kings.  I believe that perfect baby grew into a perfect man who loved us all so much that he was willing to walk the roads from northern Israel into the town of Jerusalem knowing he was to be persecuted and put to death.  For me.  For you.  For all of us.

Any cross I carry is far lighter than the one Jesus carried for me.  I will always be a work in progress, and I am certain that it will be worth the sacrifice.

So at this special time of year, honor that baby boy who came to this earth for each of us.

Happy Birthday, Jesus and Merry CHRISTmas to all of you!


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