What does it mean for a person to take up his cross? Jesus tells us it is to deny yourself of all ungodliness and every worldly lust, and keep his commandments. But the deeper undertone is an undertone of suffering. We all know where Jesus went before and after he took up his own cross. I don't know that anyone really wants to go there themselves.From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments. Break not my commandments for to save your lives; for whosoever will save his life in this world, shall lose it in the world to come. And whosoever will lose his life in this world, for my sake, shall find it in the world to come. Therefore, forsake the world, and save your souls; for what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
But if we really want to understand what it means to take up our cross, we can't have our eye on the crucifixion. We can't focus on the nails driven through Jesus' hands or on the suffering we may endure by following Christ. That's because that wasn't the end of it.
Jesus is not our Savior only because he died for us. Jesus is our Savior because he rose again.
What it means to take up your cross is to willingly walk into the garden of Gethsemane, willingly allow the world to try you and condemn you, willingly walk to a hill and allow others who don't understand to publicly crucify you; and to do all that keeping an eye on the resurrection to come.
Jesus has asked us to follow him. That is the essence of discipleship. If we are not willing to risk our livelihood, our material goods, our comfort, our husbands or wives, our children, our family and friends, and everything that we value to any degree in order to follow Jesus, we will have gained nothing. But we must remember that when we are asked to sacrifice all for him, it will not be an arbitrary thing. We will know why we are being asked to sacrifice and we will be given reason to hope for a resurrection when the crucifixion is done.
Take up your cross and follow him!