Bearing the Cross?

 

 

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

 

 

John Calvin saw “bearing the cross” as a mark of self-denial and Christian discipleship (Mt.16:24; Lk6:40; 1Pet.2:21-28).  Not only is the cross the place where sin is absolved and forgiveness found; it is also a symbol to him of all of the adversities that Christians suffer while here on the earth.   And such suffering and afflictions are permitted by God to purify and perfect us.  It is to beat back our tendency to repose ultimate confidence in our own flesh.  God uses the many adversities of life to expose our pride and to bring us to a place of humility before him.  We also learn to trust in the sovereign God.  In fact, God uses “cross-bearing” to bring about changes in the Christian’s life and character, “to test their patience and to instruct them to obedience” (Inst. 3:8:4).  Moreover, past offenses and failures are brought to the surface of our minds when we struggle under current difficulties, which impress upon us the depth and gravity of sin and our need to mortify it in our own lives (Ist.3:8:6).  Thus, the earthly suffering is a necessary part of life.  And all the “crosses” are ultimately for our benefit. 

 

 

[From the article “Bearing the Cross: John Calvin and the Adversities of Life”

by Marcus J. Serven in “MODERN REFORMATION”]