Luke 9:23-25; “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?”
A couple of weeks ago my pastor spoke on taking risks and what our responsibilities are as members of the church of Jesus Christ. He based his sermon on the passage above and of course I began thinking about the Mormons. For this article I have two objectives to explore and they are;
What did Jesus mean when He said ‘pick up your cross’?
What does this phrase mean for the Mormon?
As my pastor noted when Jesus used this phrase He wasn’t talking about the piece of jewelry you wear around your neck. We need to think of this in historical context. The streets in and around Jerusalem were lined with crosses and used as a very public display of punishment for those who disobeyed the Roman government.
After beating the criminal they stripped them of all clothing and crucified them. While they were hanging there to die insects would invade the open wounds caused from the flogging and vultures flew in to pluck out their dinner from the defenseless person. Think about this – streets were lined with this scenario all day – every day.
From historical sources we know the Romans used two different sizes of crosses to crucify condemned criminals; one was short and one was tall. The cross they crucified Jesus on was probably the more common short cross that would’ve been 7 ft tall. The fact that a soldier put a sponge on the end of a hyssop plant suggests this because a hyssop stalk is typically 20 inches long.
Crucifixions were very common in those days and became even more so during the Jewish Rebellion in 70 AD. Jewish historian Josephus remarked the Appian Way was filled 6,000 crosses in one day lining both sides of the road waiting for the criminal to pay with his or her life. He noted “there was not enough room for the crosses and not enough crosses for the bodies” (Wars of the Jews 5:11.1).
When Jesus said ‘pick up your cross and follow Me’ this is the visual that was going through the disciples’ heads. They weren’t worried about being questioned by unbelievers; the risks were much higher than that!
Jesus was telling the disciples and everyone else that following Him meant there was going to be a heavy price to pay. The 9th chapter of Luke has been known as the chapter of risk and the word risk means an action that exposes you to loss or injury.
It’s a risk to follow Him now just as it was then. While we’re not facing the threat of crucifixion per se, some of us will face the reality of shunning or losing our homes or a job or worse yet, our families. These losses are real, tangible losses, but many times we shy away fearing the unknown consequences of what those costs may incur.
Are you ready to lose your job or home or family to follow the Jesus of the Bible?
Picking Up Your Cross
The LDS Church celebrates the founding of Mormonism every year on the first weekend of April and that’s where we’re at today (April 6, 2014). While they yammer on about Joseph and all the good works they’ve done throughout the year, I’m asking the Mormon people to look outside themselves and the Church to evaluate the real cost of Christianity.
John 12:23-26; “And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour’.
Over the years LDS leaders have emphatically declared the Jesus of Mormonism is not the Jesus of the Bible so in light of that who or what are you serving if you’re following the Jesus of Mormonism?
The Greek word servant in vs. 26 is diakonos meaning one who is an attendant, a waiter at a table or other menial duties, a Christian teacher and/or pastor. Are you a servant of the Jesus of the Bible or a servant of the Mormon Church? It’s one or the other, but it can’t be both my friend!
I have a few questions that I pray Mormons consider as they evaluate their own lives. In John Piper’s book “Don’t Waste Your Life” he asked a few questions that I’ll be incorporating into my own list here. He asked if your god is too small and why you’d risk your life for a ‘cosmic god’ or a ‘kindly grandfather type’ or a ‘grand architect’.
Ironically, the descriptions Pastor Piper used for these false gods aptly fit the roles of the Mormon Elohim. Why is that?
What would you lose if you chose to follow Jesus exclusively?
Is following the Jesus of the Bible worth it to you?
Why risk your life for a cosmic god who’s already attained his status of godhood?
If everyone has to work for his own godhood status, aka salvation, why would you need to risk anything for that person?
Jesus never spoke about going to the Garden to atone for sin, but He always talked about going to the cross to give His life for ours. If He atoned for sin in the Garden of Gethsemane why didn’t He mention this?
Did the Mormon Elohim drive you to your knees today?
Why pick up a cross if Jesus didn’t pay for your sins there? Why not pick up a garden?
Jesus didn’t lose His life in the Garden, but He did on the cross so why did He say that He’d draw all people to Himself when He was lifted up? John 12:32
With Holy Week and Easter coming upon us we want the Mormon people to know that we’re praying diligently for their salvation and that they’d give an honest evaluation to the questions I’ve listed here. There’s nothing in a Christian’s life as sweet as being in Him. The price of following Jesus is well worth having the assurance of salvation!
If you have any questions or would like prayer don’t hesitate to call or contact us!
With Love in Christ;
1 Cor 1:18