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What did Jesus Mean by "Take up your cross and follow Me"

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Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. - Matthew 16:24

Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. - Matthew 10:38

And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. - Luke 14:27

Snippet from GotQuestions.org
Take up your cross and follow Me” means being willing to die in order to follow Jesus. This is called “dying to self.” It’s a call to absolute surrender. After each time Jesus commanded cross bearing, He said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:24-25). Although the call is tough, the reward is matchless.

Following Jesus is easy when life runs smoothly; our true commitment to Him is revealed during trials. Jesus assured us that trials will come to His followers (John 16:33). 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 Him. None was willing to take up his cross and crucify upon it his own interests. 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 (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 wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25-26).

RSB Bible Study Notes
Here Jesus adds the command to deny oneself. The call to discipleship demands that one completely abandon the natural desire to seek comfort, fame, or power.

Matthew Henry's Commentary
Christ, having shown his disciples that he must suffer, and that he was ready and willing to suffer, here shows them that they must suffer too, and must be ready and willing. It is a weighty discourse that we have in these verses.

Here is the law of discipleship laid down, and the terms fixed, upon which we may have the honour and benefit of it, Matt. 16:24. He said this to his disciples, not only that they might instruct others concerning it, but that by this rule they might examine their own security. Observe,

1. What it is to be a disciple of Christ; it is to come after him. When Christ called his disciples, this was the word of command, Follow me. A true disciple of Christ is one that doth follow him in duty, and shall follow him to glory. He is one that comes after Christ, not one that prescribes to him, as Peter now undertook to do, forgetting his place. A disciple of Christ comes after him, as the sheep after the shepherd, the servant after his master, the soldiers after their captain; he is one that aims at the same end that Christ aimed at, the glory of God, and the glory of heaven: and one that walks in the same way that he walked in, is led by his Spirit, treads in his steps, submits to his conduct, and follows the Lamb, whithersoever he goes, Rev. 14:4.

2. What are the great things required of those that will be Christ’s disciples; If any man will come, ei tis theleiIf any man be willing to come. It denotes a deliberate choice, and cheerfulness and resolution in that choice. Many are disciples more by chance or the will of others than by any act of their own will; but Christ will have his people volunteers, Ps. 110:3. It is as if Christ had said, “If any of the people that are not my disciples, be steadfastly minded to come to me, and if you that are, be in like manner minded to adhere to me, it is upon these terms, these and no other; you must follow me in sufferings as well as in other things, and therefore when you sit down to count the cost, reckon upon it.”

Now what are these terms?

(1.) Let him deny himself. Peter had advised Christ to spare himself, and would be ready, in the like case, to take the advice; but Christ tells them all, they must be so far from sparing themselves, that they must deny themselves. Herein they must come after Christ, for his birth, and life, and death, were all a continued act of self-denial, a self-emptying, Phil. 2:7, 8. If self-denial be a hard lesson, and against the grain to flesh and blood, it is no more than what our Master learned and practised before us and for us, both for our redemption and for our instruction; and the servant is not above his lord. Note, All the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ must deny themselves. It is the fundamental law of admission into Christ’s school, and the first and great lesson to be learned in this school, to deny ourselves; it is both the strait gate, and the narrow way; it is necessary in order to our learning all the other good lessons that are there taught. We must deny ourselves absolutely, we must not admire our own shadow, nor gratify our own humour; we must not lean to our own understanding, nor seek our own things, nor be our own end. We must deny ourselves comparatively; we must deny ourselves for Christ, and his will and glory, and the service of his interest in the world; we must deny ourselves for our brethren, and for their good; and we must deny ourselves for ourselves, deny the appetites of the body for the benefit of the soul.

(2.) Let him take up his cross. The cross is here put for all sufferings, as men or Christians; providential afflictions, persecutions for righteousness’ sake, every trouble that befals us, either for doing well or for not doing ill. The troubles of Christians are fitly called crosses, in allusion to the death of the cross, which Christ was obedient to; and it should reconcile us to troubles, and take off the terror of them, that they are what we bear in common with Christ, and such as he hath borne before us. Note,

[1.] Every disciple of Christ hath his cross, and must count upon it; as each hath his special duty to be done, so each hath his special trouble to be borne, and every one feels most from his own burthen. Crosses are the common lot of God’s children, but of this common lot of God’s children, but of this common lot each hath his particular share. That is our cross which Infinite Wisdom has appointed for us, and a Sovereign Providence has laid on us, as fittest for us. It is good for us to call the cross we are under our own, and entertain it accordingly. We are apt to think we could bear such a one’s cross better than our own; but that is best which is, and we ought to make the best of it.

[2.]
Every disciple of Christ must take up that which the wise God hath made his cross. It is an allusion to the Roman custom of compelling those that were condemned to be crucified, to carry their cross: when Simon carried Christ’s cross after him, this phrase was illustrated. First, It is supposed that the cross lies in our way, and is prepared for us. We must not make crosses to ourselves, but must accommodate ourselves to those which God has made for us. Our rule is, not to go a step out of the way of duty, either to meet a cross, or to miss one. We must not by our rashness and indiscretion pull crosses down upon our own heads, but must take them up when they are laid in our way. We must so manage an affliction, that it may not be a stumbling-block or hindrance to us in any service we have to do for God. We must take it up out of our way, by getting over the offence of the cross; None of these things move me; and we must then go on with it in our way, though it lie heavy. Secondly, That which we have to do, is, not only to bear the cross (that a stock, or a stone, or a stick may do), not only to be silent under it, but we must take up the cross, must improve it to some good advantage. We should not say, “This is an evil, and I must bear it, because I cannot help it;” but, “This is an evil, and I will bear it, because it shall work for my good.” When we rejoice in our afflictions, and glory in them, then we take up the cross. This fitly follows upon denying ourselves; for he that will not deny himself the pleasures of sin, and the advantages of this world for Christ, when it comes to the push, will never have the heart to take up his cross. “He that cannot take up the resolution to live a saint, has a demonstration within himself, that he is never likely to die a martyr;” so Archbishop Tillotson.

(3.) Let him follow me,
in this particular of taking up the cross. Suffering saints must look unto Jesus, and take from him both direction and encouragement in suffering. Do we bear the cross? We therein follow Christ, who bears it before us, bears it for us, and so bears it from us. He bore the heavy end of the cross, the end that had the curse upon it, that was a heavy end, and so made the other light and easy for us. Or, we may take it in general, we must follow Christ in all instances of holiness and obedience. Note, The disciples of Christ must study to imitate their Master, and conform themselves in every thing to his example, and continue in well-doing, whatever crosses lie in their way. To do well and to suffer ill, is to follow Christ. If any man will come after me, let him follow me; that seems to be idem per idem—the same thing over again. What is the difference? Surely it is this, “If any man will come after me, in profession, and so have the name and credit of a disciple, let him follow me in truth, and so do the work and duty of a disciple.” Or thus, “If any man will set out after me, in good beginnings, let him continue to follow me with all perseverance.” That is following the Lord fully, as Caleb did. Those that come after Christ, must follow after him.
 
Loyal
I would say our "cross" is "denying our self". That sounds so scary, because we all want life, and we want to do what we want to do.
Yet, Jesus tells us if we lose our life by denying our self that is when you find life!!!

Mat 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

This does not make any sense in this physical world as you always have to give something to get something, but in this case you loose something to get something! :smile:
 
Member
I think that taking up one's cross means to deny myself to walk in the ways that the world would walk or behave. It's to live and love the way that God would have us to do. It is more difficult to live each day according to the Spirit, and walk in Love and forgiveness than it is to be a judgmental, person who tells everyone they are going to hell for sinning. It's coming alongside the homeless or the destitute, or the sick or the poor and lovingly reminding them that we have the Master healer of body or emotions....and He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for our mistakes, so that We can have a relationship with Him. It is lovingly coming alongside of the person who is bogged down with the spirit of condemnation, and gently guiding them back into our creators very loving arms. It is all about Jesus, not us.

In my opinion suffering is greatly misunderstood. Many people think that if they are suffering in sickness or poverty for God then they are earning some great medal. But suffering in much of today's world is nothing more than denying one's fleshly reactions that make us just like the world. Taking up one's cross is separating oneself to be just like Jesus.....and whatever and whoever God calls us to be. Now if you happen to live in countries where there is not an opening to the Word, and there is no covenant with God except just a few, then it may be much more different. But Jesus does not want for us to intentionally go, unless we are called.

Sorry for being long winded......blessings to you all
 
Member
Sometimes I wonder if the means of execution had been the electric chair, if the verse would have read: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their electric chair and follow me." Or would the Messiah have used a different metaphor to carry His message of 'dying to self'?
 

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