Only One Meaning

by Greg Laurie on Dec 8, 2021
Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
—Mark 8:34

We adorn our churches with massive crosses, we get into lawsuits about where we can display crosses, and we turn crosses into fashion accessories and even tattoos. But I think we have a lot of misconceptions today about the cross.

In the first century, the cross was a repulsive symbol. In fact, it wasn’t a symbol of the church in the beginning, though it did become one later. Back then, a cross was a despicable image, because it was an incredibly horrible way to die. To even use a picture of a cross was repugnant and repulsive in that culture.

The Romans didn’t invent crucifixion, but we could say they perfected it. They saved crucifixion for the worst of criminals.

So when Jesus said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34 NKJV), the meaning wasn’t lost on His first-century audience. And although He spoke these words some 2,000 years ago, they still ring true for us today.

So what does it actually mean to take up our cross and follow Him? First, it means to deny ourselves. That means saying no to ourselves. It means to put God’s will above our own.

And what is this cross that were all called to bear? I think we need to first understand what it isn’t. We tend to use the phrase in ways that aren’t actually biblical. For instance, a mother might say, “My cross to bear is my children.” And the children of that mother might say, “Our cross to bear is our mother.”

Someone else may identify a certain affliction, difficulty, or issue as their cross to bear. But that is not what Jesus meant when He spoke of bearing the cross. To bear the cross means one thing: deny yourself and put God first.

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