Chapter XX


A BOY WAS ONCE SEEN walking home after the martyr fires had been burning brightly at Smithfield.  Someone said to him: "My boy, why were you there?" Like a true follower of the Lamb he replied, "I want to learn the way." When "Bloody Mary," as she has been called, had forbidden the proclamation of the simple gospel, Lawrence Sanders was constrained to obey God rather than man.  When sentenced to death before the Lord Chancellor, Sanders answered: "Welcome be it, whatever the will of God shall be, either life or death; I tell you truly I have learned to die." Taking the stake to which he was to be chained and burned, he kissed it saying, "Welcome the Cross of Christ, welcome everlasting life." Do such martyr stories seem to belong to another world, "to another order of life?" Shame on us that we think SO. If, however, it is our eternal passion to press on to know Christ, we shall soon discover that the crucified Lord must have crucified followers; that as we glory in the Cross for our salvation, so we must embrace the Cross for self-crucifixion.  We cannot sever the outward from the inward cross.  Shame on me if I think there is a Cross for Jesus, but none for me.  Let me embrace the way of the Cross and learn to die.

When we first came to Christ the Cross was our only attraction.  By His blood alone could we have been reconciled to God.  Later perhaps, we came t( see the deeper meaning in His death, that when He died for us we also died with Him.  We learned that we "have been crucified together with Him," identified with Him in death and resurrection as God's way of victory over sin.  Paul says that, having obeyed from the heart that pattern or "mold of doctrine" to which we were delivered (through our vital union with Christ in death and resurrection), we were freed from the old mastery of sin.  Emancipation came through our having been handed over, or delivered up to, the Cross-mold of doctrine.  That truth has gripped us as in a vise--we do belong to our new Master, the Crucified.  But it is just here that many honest believers may begin to fail.  Having reckoned themselves "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord," they almost unconsciously begin to feel that they have attained.  They almost feel that for them the Cross is past and done with.  They forget that their life-long fellowship is to be with the Crucified, and that if the Crucified is to abide in them, they must know Him in the fellowship of His sufferings as the daily experience of life.  How can we abide daily in the Crucified unless our lives be poured again and again into the mold of the Cross?  The offense of the Cross has not ceased except in the case of those who have refused to live crucified lives.  "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution:' The moment we begin to live Christ-like lives we hear the apostle say, "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." And what was that mind?  When He was in the form of God He emptied Himself; He came in the likeness of men; He took the form of a servant; He humbled Himself; He became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.  Am I a follower of the Lamb?  His was a path of self-emptying and learning of obedience by the things which He suffered.  The law of the Master must be the law for the disciple.

And did my Lord on earth endure
Sorrow, and hardship, and distress
That I might sit me down secure
And rest in self-indulgent case?
His delicate disciple, I
Like Him might neither live nor die?
,Master, I have not learnt Thee so;
Thy yoke and burden I receive,
Resolve in all Thy steps to go,
And bless the Cross by which I live,
And curse the wisdom from beneath, 
That strives to rob me of Thy death. 
--Rev.  Charles Wesley.

<Previous HOME Next>