Question: What did Jesus mean when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me”? From: GotQuestions Note - I added the scriptures from the KJV Answer: Let’s begin with what Jesus didn’t mean. Many people interpret “cross” as some burden they must carry in their Christian lives: a strained relationship, a thankless job, a physical illness. With self-pitying pride, they say, “That’s my cross I have to carry.” Such an interpretation is not what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.” When Jesus carried His cross up Golgotha to be crucified, no one was thinking of the cross as symbolic of a burden to carry. 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. 2,000 years later, Christians view the cross as a cherished symbol of atonement, forgiveness, grace, and love. But in Jesus’ day, the cross represented nothing but torturous death. Because the Romans forced convicted criminals to carry their own cross to the place of crucifixion, bearing a cross meant carrying their own execution device while facing ridicule along the way to death. Therefore, “Take up your cross and follow Me” means willingness to die in order to follow Jesus. It’s a call to absolute surrender. After each time Jesus commanded cross bearing, He said, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:24-26). Luk 9:24-26 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels. Although the call is tough, the reward is matchless. Wherever Jesus went, He drew crowds. Although these multitudes often followed Him as Messiah, their view of the Messiah was distorted. They thought the Christ would usher in the restored kingdom. They believed He would free them from the oppressive rule of their Roman occupiers. Even Christ’s own inner circle of disciples thought the kingdom was coming soon (Luke 19:11). Luk 19:11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. When Jesus began teaching that He was going to die at the hands of the Jewish leaders and their Gentile overlords (Luke 9:22), Luk 9:22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. His popularity sunk. Many of the shocked followers rejected Him. Joh 6:60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it Following Jesus is easy when life runs smoothly; our true commitment to Him is revealed during trials. Jesus assured that trials will come to His followers (John 16:33). Joh 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. Discipleship demands sacrifice, and Jesus never hid that cost. In Luke 9:57-62, three people seemed willing to follow Jesus. When Jesus questioned them further, their commitment was half-hearted at best. They failed to count the cost of following Jesus. None was willing to take up his cross. Luk 9:57-62 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Therefore, Jesus appeared to dissuade them. How different from the typical Gospel presentation! How many people would respond to an altar call that went, “Come follow Jesus, and you may face the loss of friends, family, reputation, career, and possibly even your life”? False converts would likely decrease! Such a call is what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.” If you wonder if you are ready to take up your cross, consider these questions: 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? At some places in the world, these consequences are reality. But notice the questions are phrased, “Are you willing?” Following Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean all these things will happen to you, but will you 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? Commitment to Christ means to take 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 (Luke 14:27). The reward is worth the price. Jesus followed His call of death to self (“Take up your cross and follow Me”) with the gift of life in Christ: "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25-26).