Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 10:38
“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” – Matthew 10:38
When persons were convicted of a crime in ancient Rome and they were condemned to be crucified, a part of the sentence was that they would carry the cross they would be crucified on to the place where the crucifixion would take place. This idea of carrying or bearing the cross is a brutal and humiliating process.
Normally, when the prisoner was sentenced to crucifixion, he would first be scourged to the point of near death. This was done using the flagrum, otherwise known as the Roman scourge. It was essentially a short whip with two or three ox-hide leather strands known as thongs. The leather thongs were knotted with several small pieces of metal with sharp edges. When used, this would rip some skin off after the first hit.
After this was finished, they placed the cross, normally only the crossbeam, which was very heavy onto the prisoner’s back. He would then carry this, completely naked, from the prison to the place of crucifixion. If he survived the journey, and some did not, the crossbeam would be attached to the pole, and they would be nailed by the hands (technically the wrist just below the hand) and feet and would be left to die. This occurred in a very public area, only about ten feet up, which added to the humiliation.
The idea of being willing to take up our cross as stated in our focus verse means we must be willing to endure extreme hardship, suffer, be humiliated and disgraced, and die for the cause of Christ. God has called us to do His work upon this earth. Sometimes that work is easy. Sometimes it is trying, but sometimes it is brutal. Look at what is taking place in China and North Korea where Christians are starved, beaten, humiliated and often put to death in what are known as Re-Education camps. The main purpose is to “re-educate” the Christians until they deny God and make the government and its leader their so-called god. We should look at these who do not renounce their faith no matter how much suffering there is, as the example Jesus described in Matthew 10:38 for us to follow.
Are we willing to lower ourselves in order to do the will of God? Are we willing to endure extreme hardship for the cause of Christ? Are we willing to go through extreme suffering and/or humiliation if that is what He has for us? This is a tough verse, however, honestly and prayerfully examining ourselves with this verse will allow us to see if we are truly devoted in all ways to God. He is not asking us to do anything He was not willing to do Himself. If we are not willing, then, as our verse of the days says, we are not worthy of Him.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.