Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” – Mark 8:31-35
There’s got to be a better way! From health care to technology, we see this motto repeated on a daily basis. It seems to be part of our psyche. We are always looking for a better way.
Peter had just made a beautiful confession of his faith. He knew that Jesus was the Christ, God’s chosen servant to deliver his people. But he didn’t like how this deliverance was to happen. “Jesus, enough of all of this talk of suffering, being rejected, and killed!” There’s got to be a better way.
But there was no better way for Jesus, because the way of suffering was the way of salvation. He would go the way of the cross in perfect obedience to his Father and in perfect love for us. This was the only way that he could pay the price for our sins and bring eternal salvation for all.
There was no better way for Christ, and there is no better way for us. Not that we have to suffer and die for sins. No, that’s already been done. The work is finished. But Jesus did promise, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Taking up our cross is not a cause of our salvation, but it is a sure consequence of following Jesus. It’s been said, “No cross, no Christian.”
But even as we take up our cross by denying ourselves so that we can serve God and others, even as we face outward opposition and persecution from the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh, our Savior teaches us that there is no better way than the cross. Because even the crosses that God allows in our lives are used to draw us closer to him. They help us see through this world with all its empty promises and teach us to rely on the promises of our Savior who says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). They help us see through this life of suffering and pain to the joys that Jesus has prepared for us in heaven. While it may not always seem like it, there is no better way than the cross, not for Jesus and not for us.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to carry my crosses with joy and confidence in your cross by which you won my eternal salvation. Amen.