“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
Matthew 10:38-39 NIV
The cross was well known in Jesus’ day. Not as a decoration we hang on the wall of our home or set upon the top of a church steeple, but an instrument of execution and torture used by the Romans. It was used to punish the most hardened criminals. Jesus had not yet been to the cross when these words were spoken, but it was understood that a prisoner sentenced to death must first carry their own cross to their site of execution. It was a way of showing total submission to the ruling authority, Rome.
Jesus speaks of His followers being willing to follow Him in His act of total submission, not to Rome because at any time in His own execution He could have called a legion of angels to rescue Him from the cross, but to God and God’s will. Jesus knew what it would cost for Him to fulfill His purpose for which He came, a humiliating and horrendous death. He did so for the “joy set before Him”- you and me.
He requires no less in wholehearted devotion and commitment from us. All we are, submitted to God and God’s will- For all He is Life, Joy, Peace, wholeness. That is a life lived “taking up our cross and following Him”. Living in submission to Jesus and His will for us. With the promise that if we “die with Him (spiritually) we shall surely live with Him and reign. (2 Timothy 2:11-12).