What does it mean to “pick up our cross”? Pastor Charles explains.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.'” (Matthew 16:24)
With the Easter season just around the corner, my thoughts have been turning recently to a total focus and thankfulness in my heart for the cross and the great victory that has been gained there for our lives. Jesus is very straight forward in this text and tells us exactly what we need to do in order to follow Him.
He first recognizes that people will pursue Him. Some will be in genuine faith and some will be to slander and persecute the church. But for those who are looking for a Savior, He goes a step further and tells us what we need to do in order to be a genuine Christian and to deepen our walk with Him.
He tells us we first need to deny ourselves. How do we do this?
It simply means that we need to give up our will, our ways, our plans and our lives to the Lord. We then must allow God’s will, His ways, His plan, and His life to invade every cell of our being. This is what the Scripture means when it speaks of holiness and this, just like salvation, is only possible through our Lord Jesus and His everlasting grace working in our lives.The next part speaks about taking up our cross.
This can cover a vast number of things but I just want to focus on two of them: pain and illness. With all the pain and illness that we have endured, we have picked up our crosses and are carrying them on our backs. At times we think our cross is too heavy. We feel that we need a “Simon” to help us carry our crosses. It discourages us to the point where we give up all hope.
There are some positive points that come out of taking up your cross in this life:
- No Simon is needed. Christ will be with us every step of the way to help us bear this load. (Matthew 28:20)
- The pain and illness we endure is a test of our faith. It helps to refine and mold our faith in Christ and His cross. (James 1:2-4)
- The cross we endure will be temporary. We will one day leave this life for our true and eternal home. (James 4:14)
- Our cross that we take up in this life will become a crown of glory in our home in heaven. (2 Timothy 4:8)
It is so exciting to know that one day, my pain and illness will be a thing of the past and that I will never have to deal with it again. We will have new bodies that will never be subject to limitations, that will not have to be given drugs or surgeries to relieve pain, and that will not require a walker or other devices to make us mobile.
But this is only the beginning. We will lay down our cross and inherit a crown. We ran the race, we trusted in God through thick and thin and God will give us a crown of glory as the prize. The ultimate prize above all though is that we will follow where Jesus has led. This is why it is so important to begin to follow Him in this life so that we can continue to follow Him into and through all eternity. Our faith will become reality and we will be with the one who took up His cross and took our punishment so that we could live forever.
Prayer: Father, thank you for the cross you endured for my salvation, for nothing else in my faith would be possible without it. I pray that You help me to faithfully endure the cross that I have taken up in this life. May my focus always be on the eternal things that await me because of my faith and love for You. Help my life to be a reflection of Yours so that I can allow other people the same opportunity of knowing You as Savior and Lord. Amen.
About the Author:
Charles Wells is an ordained minister who lives in Texas with his 10-year-old son, 6-year-old daughter and his wife. He suffers from major spinal problems and has had three major back surgeries. He has taken this pain and uses it for God’s glory by ministering to people in nursing homes, rehab centers and writing on these experiences. You may visit his blog at