What Does it Mean to Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus?

After Peter confessed that Jesus is “the Christ of God” (Luke 9:20), Jesus foretold His death and resurrection, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (v22).  Jesus was talking about His crucifixion.

And then, He said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (v23-24).  So, what it means to take up one’s cross is to follow in the Savior’s footsteps in His suffering.

These days, the cross is venerated, and rightly so; it is the wood upon which our Savior died for our sins.  But, when Jesus was speaking to His disciples of the cross, the cross symbolized one thing: crucifixion.  And crucifixion was a shameful, horrific death, a subject not spoken about in polite company.  Consider that and reread Jesus’s call for His disciple to “take up his cross daily“.

Now, Jesus wasn’t saying that every one of His disciples needed to be crucified in order to be His disciples (though some were).  But anyone who would be His disciple would need to be willing to face that fate for His sake.  Sometimes, when someone speaks of a difficult challenge, like financial difficulty or family troubles, they might say things like, “Well, this is my cross to carry.”  Carrying your cross is not hardship or suffering in general.  Carrying your cross is total devotion to the Savior.  It’s not about suffering, per se, but it’s a total surrender of one’s whole life, which could include being persecuted and murdered for His namesake.

Granted, no Christian does this perfectly, but all of us who have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus are called to this life of total devotion to the Savior.  But this is not burdensome.  This is not a chore.  His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.  Following Jesus is the most delightful, joyful, abundant life that a person could have, even if it is a life of persecution and suffering.  Christianity is hard, but it is rewarding, both in this life and for all eternity.  Whoever loses his life for Jesus will save it.

Today’s readings:
Psalm 14
Genesis 15
1 Chronicles 15:1-16:3
Luke 9:1-50

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