Bible words explained: Take up your cross
VIDEO: What did Jesus mean when He said that I must take up my cross daily in order to be His disciple?
“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’” Luke 9:23.
These are clear instructions from Jesus on what we need to do if we truly want to follow Him and be a disciple. But what does it really mean to “take up my cross?” In this video we explain this verse and what meaning it has for us today – how can I take up my cross daily.
Audio Transcript: Take up my cross
Jesus says in Luke 9:23 “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
From this, we can understand that to “take up my cross” is a requirement to be Jesus’ disciple, and it must happen daily.
The first people’s disobedience to God’s commandment is known as the “Fall.” They now had a “flesh”, which means that they had come into opposition towards God. All people have inherited this flesh, and this influences our thoughts, words and actions.
When I give my life to Jesus, I commit myself to stop serving sin and doing my own will, and to start serving God. So, I have decided no longer to agree to the lusts and desires that come from my flesh.
But my new mind doesn’t mean my flesh has changed. I quickly notice that my lusts are very much alive, and I still get tempted. This is why I need to take up my cross daily. We will get back to that later.
The cross was a common method of punishment by the Romans who ruled during Jesus’ time. No one could hang on a cross and live. After suffering for a period of time, death finally came.
So what does taking up my cross actually mean? To “take up my cross” is something that takes place in my mind. When thoughts that aren’t pleasing to God come to my mind during the day, I deny them and “put them to death” on an inner “cross.” So, taking up my cross is basically to say “No!” to my own self-will and lusts when I am tempted.
It hurts to deny the sinful thoughts that I naturally tend to think and which are in opposition to God’s will, even if my whole desire is to do what’s pleasing to God. “Taking up my cross” causes suffering – for my flesh, which doesn’t get what it wants. The Bible calls this “suffering in the flesh,’ and the Apostle Peter writes:
“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” 1 Peter 4:1. The Holy Spirit gives me the strength to remain hanging on the cross – to keep saying “No!” to the demands of my flesh – until the lusts die. Then I truly become free from sin.
As a human being, my flesh is full of selfishness. That is why Jesus says that I have to deny myself and take up my cross every day, all my life. As I use this cross day by day, bit by bit, I am overcoming sin and becoming more like Jesus. Life gets better and better when I’m no longer bound to reacting the way I used to, and it also gets better for others to be around me!
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