“take up your cross, and follow Me”
My Reader, join me in meditating on the conversation between Jesus and His disciples when He spoke these words.
This directive is recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. We are going to focus on four specific words Jesus articulated.
Jesus spoke these words to His disciples over 2000 years ago. Today, hear Him speak them to you.
Take up your cross, and follow Me.
Jesus was explaining to His twelve followers that He would soon suffer, die upon the cross, be buried and then raised to new life three days later. They didn’t want to hear it! They didn’t understand it!
To the disciples, the cross meant the most painful death in the most humiliating way. Having spent the last 3 ½ years with Jesus, the disciples loved Him. They did not want to think about crucifixion.
They pictured how the Romans forced the criminals to carry their own crosses to the place of crucifixion. In their minds, they heard the ridiculing comments shouted by the crowd as the convicted men shuffled to their execution. The Jesus the disciples knew did not deserve this!
Then, Jesus dropped another bombshell upon His disciples.
Jesus not only said that He would be crucified upon a cross – He told each of them to take up his own cross. This became more personal.
Was Jesus asking them to be crucified with Him? No.
However, in a sense, He was prophesying what was in store for His closest followers. Although not recorded in scripture, it is historically documented that 10 of the 12 disciples died as martyrs. Peter asked to be crucified upside down on the cross because he did not feel worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord. Following Jesus cost these men their lives. Each man took up his cross and followed Jesus.
Take up your cross daily and follow Me.
Luke included the word “daily.” A person only dies once. This eliminates the thought that Jesus was asking His disciples to follow Him to Golgotha when He would be nailed to the cross.
Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
For me, taking up my cross may mean dying to my desires rather than dying a physical death on the beam of a cross. The New Living Translation uses the words “turn from your selfish ways.” Every day we are to live a selfless lifestyle of surrender and sacrifice. Colossians 3:5 NLT says, “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” Then Galatians 5:24 NLT says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.”
Take up your cross and follow Me.
Jesus addressed the command “take up your cross” to anyone who wanted to be His disciple.
No longer was Jesus only talking with His twelve disciples. This becomes more personal! He is speaking to us, One on one.
When Jesus died on “the cross,” it became “my cross.” He took my sins when He was nailed to the wooden cross. His cross had my name upon it. Now it is my responsibility to accept Him as my personal savior. Ephesians 1:7 states, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Jesus extends the cross to you and me. We must personally embrace the cross. That is why Jesus calls it “your cross” that He invites us to take up.
“Take up your cross and follow Me.”
After each of us accepts our cross, we are called to daily follow Jesus for the remainder of our lives. Galatians 2:20 NLT says, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
We follow Jesus by stepping into His plans and purposes. Philippians 4:13 assures us of being able to follow His footsteps, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Neither you nor I know what will be required when we become His follower.
There are still martyrs today who are required to physically die for Christ. If you want a reminder of this, go to Voice of the Martyrs. Please pray for these followers of Christ.
“take up your cross, and follow Me”
My Reader, are you willing to take up your cross and follow Jesus whatever the cost?
“Take up your cross and follow Me” involves embracing the totality of the cross. It means accepting that Jesus died upon the cross paying the price for your sins. It means understanding the sacrifices it may require. It means following the path wherever Jesus leads. It may even cost your physical life.
Whatever “take up your cross, and follow Me” may entail, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2