This has to be one of the hardest verses in the Bible to do, and do well. This verse says that if we want to follow Jesus we must make a conscious decision to renounce our old self and instead follow the example of our crucified Christ. And no one, including Jesus, Himself, ever said it would be easy, for there is a tremendous cost to following the Lord. Considering it takes daily getting our priorities right and properly arranging our lives so that Jesus ranks supreme in everything we do, carrying our cross becomes a trial of faith and obedience.
What does it really mean to be crucified with Christ? Again, we have this picture of putting off the old and putting on the new self. It starts at the moment of redemption when as Romans 8:10 tells us, “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” But it also becomes a lifetime journey of deliberate and intentional decisions on our part to subdue our worldly and fleshly lusts and desires. And in doing so, our old self is crucified together with Christ so that sin cannot have preeminence in our life. (Romans 6:6)…as we purposefully live for the Will of God. (I Peter 4:2)
I had the “Rules of the Road” booklet for the State of Illinois out the other day when I thought to myself, “My goodness! Driving a car sure has lots of rules and regulations tied to it!” The same goes for the Old Testament Laws spoken of here…all 613 of them. In this verse Paul was quoting Deuteronomy 27:26 and basically telling us that it’s impossible to keep all 613 Laws perfectly. So what are we to do? We’re doomed before we even try. Enter Jesus Christ, who came to redeem us from the judgement and punishment of this curse, for it tells us in Galatians 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us…” In other words, our inability to keep all the Laws was overcome by the blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
It could have been me doubting the unbelievable story the women were recounting about the empty tomb, the angels, and their words – “He is Risen!” Now we usually just give the apostle Thomas the bad rap of doubting the resurrection…but in Luke 24: 9-11 it tells us that when the women came back from the empty tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others…but no one believed them, for their words seemed like nonsense. How many times had Jesus told the apostles about what was to happen? How He must suffer, die, and then be raised from the dead three days later. Still they did not believe it when it really happened. Yes, I could have easily been among those doubters when the words, “He is risen!” echoed across that room.
It could have been me speaking with such irreverence towards Jesus. The Greek word for “hurled insults” in this verse is Blasphemeo, where we get the word blaspheme from. The robber who reviled Jesus, mocked Him by saying, “If You call Yourself the Messiah, then show us by rescuing Yourself from Your own impending death!” So any time I operate in disbelief and mistrust of the Lord…I’m basically hurling insults His direction also. Yes, it could have been me.
It could have me with that agitated crowd yelling, “Crucify Him!” Or worse yet, it could have me standing within that frenzied crowd too scared to open my mouth and object to the injustice I was witnessing. Would I have just stood there silently condoning the atrocity as it played out before me, more afraid of man than God? Yes, that could have been me.
It could have been me among that group of dosing disciples. There they were in the Garden of Gethsemane, having just been warned by Jesus to watch and pray as He moved off to pray alone. Coming back to them, Jesus was dismayed to find them all sleeping and asked, “Are you sleeping? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you won’t fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Mark 14:38) Yes, it could have been me that Jesus found asleep. For how many times have I started to pray only to have my mind wander and become distracted after only a few minutes?