Take up your cross and follow – 5 September 2022
Here is a picture that pops up from time to time on webpages. Brightly coloured, and full of contemporary references, this eye-catching Via Dolorosa is very far from the usual.
We have before us a western city scape. There are no trees, no gardens. Stylised buildings of the kind that win architectural prizes fill the scene. Well known advertising logos are placed prominently in the picture. Here then is the heart of capitalism. The front of the picture is a road, but there are no people to be seen save one. Alone, Christ carries his cross. There are no soldiers, no women weeping, no crowds. Why does Jesus carry the cross then, if no one is forcing him? Well, because this is what he has chosen to do.
The consequence of this will be severe. The ominous sky tells us this. The road heads towards judgement day, first for Jesus, and then for those who follow.
The invitation is to join this lone figure, to take up our cross and follow. That this decision will be costly for us is implicit in the picture.
The picture is Jesus carries the cross © James B Janknegt. To see more of his inspiring and wonderful art visit www.bccartfarm.com.
No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.
Now large crowds were travelling with him; and he turned and said to them, ‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Take up your cross, the Saviour said,
If you would my disciple be;
Deny yourself, the world forsake,
And humbly follow after me.
Take up your cross, be not ashamed!
Let not disgrace your spirit fill!
For God himself endured to die
Upon a cross, on Calvary’s hill.
Take up your cross, which gives you strength,
Which makes your trembling spirit brave:
‘Twill guide you to a better home
And lead to vict’ry o’er the grave.
Take up your cross, and follow Christ,
Nor think till death to lay it down;
For only they who bear the cross
May hope to wear the glorious crown.
Charles W Everest, 1833