The phrase "a cross to bear" is a popular derivation of the words of Jesus: "Take up your cross and follow Me." While the phrase is commonly understood to mean acceptance of some burdensome task, the command to take up the cross is much more than a symbol of the difficulties experienced by humanity. Any person, whether a follower of Jesus or not, will suffer frustration and pain in this life. Taking up one's cross and following Jesus is something completely different.

The cross was an instrument of death. What Jesus is referring to is commitment to Him, even unto death—obedience to the extreme measure and willingness to die in pursuit of obedience. Death on a cross was not pleasant. It was painful and humiliating. The implication is that even if obedience is painful and humiliating, we should be willing to endure it for Christ.

By saying, "Take up your cross and follow Me" Jesus was giving us a word picture of the concept of "death to self," which originates in another saying of Jesus, "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?" (Luke 9:24-25). The idea is that nothing in this life is worth keeping if it means losing eternal life, not a job, not a family, not a group of friends, not even our very identity. The call is tough, but the eternal reward is well worth the temporary pain.

The multitudes that followed Christ were convinced that He was going to bring a glorious kingdom to earth, freeing them from the oppressive Roman rule. Even His own disciples were thinking this way (Luke 19:11). Misunderstanding the prophecies, they were shocked when He began to talk about death to self and carrying the cross (Luke 9:22). They left Him in droves because of these teachings. Similarly, believers today misunderstand the call of Jesus as a call to health, wealth and prosperity. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The call of Jesus is a call to die, but today many of His followers, unwilling to accept a call to die, leave Him or simply change His message to something more pleasant.

Read more

Artist: Martin Schongauer (1448-1491)

Lukas 9:24-25 Ty den som vill bevara sitt liv skall mista det, men den som mister sitt liv för min skull, han skall vinna det. 25 Vad hjälper det en människa, om hon vinner hela världen men förlorar sitt liv eller själv går förlorad?

Matteus 16:25 Den som vill bevara sitt liv skall mista det, men den som mister sitt liv för min skull, han skall vinna det.

Luke 9:24-25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Jeremia 17:9 Ett illfundigt och fördärvat ting är hjärtat framför allt annat; vem kan förstå det?