If you want to call yourself a disciple of Jesus, then be willing to lay it all down and to give up everything for His sake.
“It’s just my cross to bear.” I’ve heard people say that phrase about the dumbest things. We tend to say it about things that annoy us, inconvenience us, or maybe cost us time or money. It reveals that we really haven’t a clue what it means to take up our cross.
Jesus was about to die a horrific death on a cross. He and all of the apostles knew what that meant. They had grown up under Roman rule, which was fairly free unless someone tried to rebel. Once, an example was made out of 2,000 rebels who were crucified along the roadside for all to see near the town of Nazareth. Jesus and his posse knew all too well what crucifixion meant.
For them, the cross wasn’t a “church” thing or a mere religious symbol. It was an instrument of execution. They would most likely be a little shocked that we would wear the cross on a necklace, much as we might be shocked if someone wore an ornamental electric chair around their neck. In other words, we may not realize the weight of Jesus’ words when He said,
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” - Matthew 16:24
To the disciples who were hearing His words, this came as a call to be willing to be crucified alongside Jesus if necessary. He didn’t intend taking up our crosses as the means to salvation or else all of these guys who “forsook Him and fled” and couldn’t be found when Jesus died would have been hopelessly lost. Rather, Jesus set the bar for what it means to really follow Him and call ourselves His disciples.
To paraphrase, Jesus was essentially saying, “You really want to call yourselves my disciples? Really? Then be willing to be executed. Be willing to lay it all down and give up everything – your freedom, your ambitions, your dreams and goals, your preferences, and your comfort for my sake.”
So. Do you really want to call yourself a Christ-follower, understanding the weight of those words?