Matthew 16:24 says: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
What does that mean?
Well, let’s look at Jesus.
An innocent man who walked the earth healing, feeding, and raising the dead. Yet, those very same people chose to release Barabbas and nail Jesus to the cross.
They persecuted Him relentlessly. He was beaten and scourged beyond recognition. He was completely blameless, yet stood in front of Pilate accused of being found guilty.
He stood there bleeding and silent as the crowd chanted for a known murderer to be set free.
They mocked Him. Spit on Him. Punched Him. Hit Him. Presumably threw rocks at Him.
Finally, they forced Him to carry the tree upon which He would eventually die. In the face of it all, He carried His cross.
If anyone on the face of this planet had the right to be upset, offended, and unforgiving, it was the carpenter from Nazareth. Yet, what did He do?
With arms outstretched and spikes rammed through His wrists, he said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
The words I highlighted in bold say everything.
Jesus understood if the people in that mob knew who they were…if they knew who their Father was…if they understood their created value and worth…if they could see themselves through God’s eyes…they would never have acted in that manner.
So, what does it mean to pick up our cross?
It means going through life faced with injustice, persecution, unfair accusations, being treated unfairly and wrong, blasphemed, made fun of and possibly ignored by others and responding the only way Jesus knew how too.
Jesus said to follow, so we know it’s not impossible. That’s awesome, my friends. We don’t have to feel condemned or guilty if we miss the mark. We have something to go after. Be encouraged.
On our darkest day, when we were yet enemies of God, He never lost sight of our created value, worth, and purpose.
We can see others the exact same way.
Let’s get over ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him with reckless abandon.