Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 16:24-25 NKJV
In Jesus’ day, the cross represented torturous death. The Romans forced convicted criminals to carry their own crosses to the place of crucifixion. Bearing a cross meant carrying your own execution device while facing ridicule along the way to death. To a person in the first-century, the cross meant one thing and one thing only: death by the most painful and humiliating means human beings could develop.
“Take up your cross and follow Me” is a call to absolute surrender. To die to oneself. If you wonder if you are ready to take up your cross, consider these questions (Note 1):
- Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing some of your closest friends?
- Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means alienation from your family?
- Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means the loss of your reputation?
- Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your job?
- Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your life?
Following Jesus doesn’t mean all these things will happen to you, but are you willing to take up your cross? If there comes a point in your life where you are faced with a choice, Jesus or the comforts of this life, which will you choose?
It is our duty as believers to be prepared to endure any hardship and trial which God lays out for us in our Christian walk. Just as Christ’s whole body was lifted up on the cross, no member of His can expect to escape the cross now. It will not speak glory for the Savior if we merely yield passively to God’s will. We must be ready with an active and holy persistence to obey, to be led down into the very chambers of death itself, if that is God’s choice.
And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:27 NLT
Commitment to Christ means taking up your cross daily. Giving up your hopes, dreams, possessions, even your very life if need be for the cause of Christ. Only if you willingly take up your cross may you be called His disciple.
And there has never have been a better time in human history to be a disciple:
Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, because they are ready for harvest. The reaper is already receiving pay and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. John 4:35b-36 CSB
People everywhere are disquieted. They know something is wrong. Things are not working. They are ripe for the why. For the Truth. For the Light.
Let not our epitaph be: Here Lies One Against His Will
Defend The Truth. Live The Faith. Advance The Kingdom.
Note 1: GotQuestions.com