Take Up Your Cross
“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them,
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself
and take up his cross and follow me.” - Mark 8:34
We live in a culture that leans toward the goal of eliminating pain and suffering. From seeking out doctors to looking for homeopathic remedies, from looking into medications to the latest fad diet that boasts a reduction of pain, we tend to look for a way to live pain-free without suffering. Our human nature is to live for selfish gain, comfortable living, and pain-free indulgence.
Unfortunately, we make the mistake when we try and apply that desire to not suffer to our spiritual lives. Remember that Jesus has invited us to a radically different way of living. The way of the cross is to turn from personal gain and self-love and instead urges us to live fully for Jesus- even when it is painful or costs us something like comfort or security.
When Jesus asks us to come after him, we must remember where his journey led.
It was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” The Christian life is an invitation into daily self-denial, putting to death our rights to pleasure or self-gain. It is an invitation to die to our old selves in order to learn what it means to be truly alive. It is the paradoxical heart of the Christian message, that through death we find life.
“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”-Romans 6:8
Devotional Reading for the Week:
Read Mark 8:27-9:50. After you are finished reading, reflect on the requirements and rewards of those who follow Jesus with the characteristics and consequences of those who follow the world.
Jesus used the phrase “take up your cross and follow me.” Today, many people interpret that as a burden in life they must carry, but for Jesus’s disciples, that’s not likely how they would have interpreted it. In their day, the cross represented tortuous death. Jesus was asking them to be willing to give their lives to follow Him. Christian tradition holds that all, save John who lived to old age, literally follow Him to that point. .) For you today, chances are you won’t be asked to literally give up your life for Him, but practically speaking, what might it mean for you to lose your life for Christ’s sake?