Matt. 10:1,5-11:1-Jesus instructs His Apostles for the beginning of their ministry. His instructions were to (cont’d):
Matt. 10:24-25-They should not be surprised by this persecution…because if Jesus was persecuted, His followers will be, also.
Matt. 10:26-31-Jesus tells them to not fear because 1.-eventually the truth will be made known and they will be justified; 2.-they can only destroy the body, but God can destroy the soul…so it is more important to be obedient to Him, than to obey men; 3.-they are of inestimable value to the Father and He is completely aware of everything that will happen.
Matt. 10:32-33-Then Jesus gives them the promise that if they will confess (declare that they belong to Him) Him to men, He will do the same to the Father.
Matt. 10:34-37-Jesus warns them that if they choose to follow Him it does not mean that suddenly their difficult lives will be wonderfully changed to peace and calm. Instead, it will cause divisions of friends and families. They have to make a decision, now…who are they going to love the most…Him, or other people.
Matt. 10:38-39-With that thought in mind Jesus tells them that each of them must “take his cross and follow after me.” Jesus was certainly not the first Jew that the Romans crucified.
How common was crucifixion in the ancient world? Quite common, at least among the Romans. Though Roman law usually spared Roman citizens from being crucified, they used crucifixion especially against rebellious foreigners, military enemies, violent criminals, robbers, and slaves. In fact slaves were so routinely crucified that crucifixion become known as the "slaves' punishment" (servile supplicium; see Valerius Maximus 2:7.12). Appian tells us that when the slave rebellion of Spartacus was crushed, the Roman general Crassus had six thousand of the slave prisoners crucified along a stretch of the Appian Way, the main road leading into Rome (Bella Civilia 1:120). As an example of crucifying rebellious foreigners, Josephus tells us that when the Romans were besieging Jerusalem in 70 A.D. the Roman general Titus, at one point, crucified five hundred or more Jews a day. In fact, so many Jews were crucified outside of the walls that "there was not enough room for the crosses and not enough crosses for the bodies" (Wars of the Jews 5:11.1).
The followers of Jesus knew full well what it meant when He told them that they would have to take up their cross if they were going to follow Him. It was a death sentence. They had to make a decision now, at that moment, that whatever happened, they would be faithful and not turn back. They were willing to die for Him. When they did this…when they gave up their life for Him…then in Him they would truly find life. Notice that it says “take up his cross”, not “take up a cross,” or “take up the cross”. Each person’s cross is individual, personal to his life...it is “his cross”. My life may bring this challenge, that trial. Another person’s life may bring different struggles. I must never compare my challenges with those of another…lest I feel that it is not fair, they have not had it as bad as I have. I must be willing to take up “my” cross…the life and the challenges that are particular to me. Then, and only then, when I have taken up my cross…will I be able to follow Him.
Matt. 10:40-42-Jesus promises that whoever receives His disciples and treats them well shall in turn be blessed by God.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, please help me to be Your follower, Your disciple. Please give me the strength and conviction to be faithful to You, to faithfully take up my cross, no matter what happens.