We can find the phrase “the way” in over 300 places in the Scriptures. Many of ‘the way‘ verses are very significant for those who desire to love the heavenly Father and walk in His Ways.
The Hebrew word for ‘way’ is ‘derek’ <Strong’s # 1870> and it means ‘a road (as trodden); and, as course or direction of life, or a manner of action, in other words, a lifestyle’.
In this series of articles, we will be looking at this phrase – ‘the way‘ – and this word ‘way‘ and its meaning as a course or direction of life, or a manner of action, or a lifestyle.
The Royal Way
There are those who will rule and reign with Messiah in His Kingdom. There are likewise some who choose not to rule and reign with Him. Those who do choose to rule with Him, are being trained today, to walk in the ‘Royal Way’.
But what is the Royal Way?
Let’s look further.
The Royal Way
It seems to many that the following is a hard saying:
If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (Matthew 16:24)
But it will be much harder to hear these words at the last Day:
Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire. (Matthew 25:41)
For those who now gladly and willingly hear and follow the way of ‘the cross’ will not need to fear the dreadful words of the sentence of eternal damnation.
The way of the cross will be in the heavens when the Lord comes to judge. Then all the servants of the cross, who during this life conformed themselves to the crucified Saviour, will draw near, with great trust, to Messiah Yahushua [the Hebrew name for Christ Jesus], the Judge.
Why, then, do you fear to take up the cross and live the sacrificial life for Messiah? The way of the cross is the royal way to the kingdom of Heaven.
In the cross is salvation; in the cross is life; in the cross is defense against our enemies; in the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness; in the cross is strength of mind; in the cross is joy of spirit; in the cross is the highest virtue; in the cross is the perfection of holiness. There is no salvation of soul, nor hope of eternal life, but in the cross.
Take up your cross, therefore, and follow Yahushua [Jesus], and you shall enter into life eternal.
Yahushua Himself opened the way before you in carrying His cross, and He died upon it for you, so that you also might take up your cross and be ready to die upon it.
If you die with Him, you shall also live with Him, and if you share His suffering, you shall also share His glory. (2Timothy 2:11-12)
Behold, in the cross is everything, and upon your dying on the cross everything depends. There is no other way to life and to true inward peace than the way of the holy cross, of daily humility and self-denial. Go where you will, seek whatever you will, but you will not find a higher way above, nor a safer way below, than the way of the cross: the living of a sacrificial life for Messiah.
Arrange and order everything to suit your own will and judgment, and still you will find something to suffer, either willingly or unwillingly. Thus you will always find the cross — a testing and a sacrificial trial. For you will either experience bodily pain, or you will suffer tribulation of spirit in your soul.
At times, you feel forsaken by God, at other times troubled by those about you, and what is worse, you will often grow weary of yourself. And still, you cannot escape the cross of trials and adversities. Nor can you be relieved by any remedy or comfort, but you must bear with the affliction as long as God wills. For God wishes you to learn to bear trials without consolation, so that you will submit yourself wholly to Him, and that you may become more humble through tribulation.
No one understands the suffering of Messiah so thoroughly or heartily as the man whose lot it is to endure suffering by following Messiah.
The cross — our trials and troubles — is always ready; it awaits you everywhere. No matter where you may go, you cannot escape it; for wherever you go, you take yourself with you, and you shall always find yourself. Turn where you will — above, below, without, or within — you will find a cross in everything. So you must always have the need of patience if you would have peace within, and gain an eternal crown.
If you carry the cross willingly, it will carry and lead you to the desired goal, where indeed there shall be no more suffering. But here, there is suffering. If you carry the cross un-willingly, you create a greater burden for yourself and increase the load, though still you have to bear it. If you cast away one cross, you will find another, and perhaps a heavier one.
Do you think to escape what no mortal man has been able to avoid? Which of the saints was without a cross or adversity on this earth? Not even Yahushua Messiah our Master was one hour without sorrow and pain while He lived here on the earth: And He [Yahushua] said to them, So it is written, and so it was necessary for Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day…. (Luke 24:46). How is it then that you look for another way than this royal way, the way of the cross?
The whole life of Messiah was a cross and a martyrdom, and do you seek pleasure and enjoyment for yourself? You deceive yourself. You are mistaken if you seek anything but to endure tribulations. This mortal life is full of miseries, and marked with crosses on all sides. Indeed, the more spiritual progress a person makes, so much heavier will he frequently find the cross, because the pain of his exile also increases the strength of his love and devotion to Messiah.
Yet such a man, though afflicted in many ways, is not without some comfort, because he has abundant fruit from bearing his cross. And when he carries it willingly, every pang of tribulation is turned into assurance of consolation from God, and also the more his spirit is strengthened by inward grace.
It is not the virtue of man, but the grace of God that enables a frail man to attempt and love that which by nature he abhors and shuns. It is not the nature of man to carry the cross, to love the cross, to bring the body into subjection. It is not the nature of man to flee honours, to endure being insulted, to despise self, to endure adversities and losses. It is not the nature of man to desire no prosperity in this world. This is not man’s way!
If you rely upon yourself, you can do none of these things. If you rely upon yourself, you can not bear the cross of trials and adversities. But if you trust in the Master, strength will be given you from heaven, and the world and the flesh will be made subject to your command. You will not even fear your enemy, the devil, if you are armed with faith and trust in the Master, while walking in the way of the cross of Messiah.
Set yourself then, like a good and faithful servant of Messiah, to bear bravely the cross as did your Master, Who was crucified for you, out of love for you. Prepare to bear many adversities and many kinds of trouble in this miserable life, for troubles and misery will always be, no matter where you are or wherever you may try to hide. Thus it must be. There is no way of escape from the trials and sorrows of this life, but to bear them patiently.
Drink lovingly of the Master’s cup if you wish to be His friend, and to have part with Him. As for consolation and the giving of relief in adversities, leave that to God; let God do as seems best to Him concerning these. On your part, be ready to bear tribulations, and consider them the greatest comforts, for the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).
When you shall have come to the point where suffering is sweet and acceptable to you for Messiah’s sake, then consider yourself fortunate, for you have found paradise on earth. But as long as suffering irks you and you seek to escape, then you will be restless and discontented, and the tribulation you seek to evade, will follow you everywhere.
If you put your mind to the things you ought to consider, that is, to suffer gladly for God and dying to the world, you would soon be in a better state, and you would find peace. Even if you were taken to the third heaven with Paul, you are not thereby insured against suffering. Yahushua said of Paul: I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake (Acts 9:16). Suffering, therefore, awaits you, if you mean to love Yahushua and serve Him forever.
Would to God that you were worthy to suffer something for the name of Yahushua! What great glory would be in store for you! What great joy among all the saints of God! What great edification to those about you! For all men praise patience, but few are willing to suffer and practice patience. With good reason, then, ought you to be willing to patiently suffer some little thing for Messiah, since many suffer much more grievous things, but only for the sake of possessing the world.
Realize then, that you must lead a dying life. The more a man dies to himself, the more he will begin to live unto God. No man is fit to enjoy heavenly things unless he has submitted himself to bear hardship for Messiah. Nothing is more acceptable to God, nothing is more profitable for you in this world than to endure hardship willingly for Messiah.
If you had to make a choice, you ought to wish rather to suffer for Messiah, than to enjoy many consolations, because then you would be more like Messiah, and more like all His saints. Our merit and spiritual progress does not consist in pleasures and comforts, but rather in enduring adversities and tribulations.
If, indeed, there were anything better or more useful for man’s salvation than suffering, Messiah would surely have shown it by word and example. But He clearly exhorts the disciples who follow Him, and all who wish to follow Him, to carry their cross, saying: If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23).
When therefore, we have read and searched all that has been written, let this be the final conclusion — We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22b).
The above article is an excerpt from the book, “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas, à Kempis, written in the 1400’s. A few phrases have been updated for clarity, and the Hebrew names have been inserted. —Ed.
Please see the Companion Articles in this series:
- Six Little Things that Make a Big Difference
- Messiah is Our Example
- Prayer Quotes
- Acquiring a Teachable Heart
- Following Messiah: Two Basic Qualities
- 7 Tips For Enduring Trials
- Dying to Self– A brief list of practical examples of how we experience “dying to self.”