What Does it Mean to “Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus?”

I’m reading my Bible (part of my goals this year is to finish the Bible) and I’m in Mark.  My Bible is an NIV Study Bible so periodically, it offers explanations, insights, and questions.  One question is “For you, what does it mean to ‘take up your cross’ and follow Jesus?”

I have often heard this asked and wondered myself.  So, first thing I usually do it google whatever I’m curious about.  What a great tool–the Internet!

I found an awesome explanation about what it meant back in Jesus’s time and how it’s meant today:


In sum, it means are you willing to lose everything to follow Jesus.  Not that you have to give up everything. Not that this will happen.  Just are you willing.

From our BSF study of Isaiah so far, we’ve learned it’s more about what’s in your heart rather than actions or deeds.  You can go through the motions of doing God’s work but if your heart is not in it, then it’s meaningless to God.

I just finished Matthew and half of Mark and the Pharisees figure prominently in these books.  They are the Biblical men who are always trying to trip up Jesus.  Jesus chastises them over and over again for their empty actions.  Their hearts aren’t in their work for they do not care about the people.

This is a great question that is often misunderstood.  People, some of whom are defined by their things, have a hard time with this one.  But it’s not about the doing of giving up your things.  You can give up all you have and still not have a heart for Jesus.

It’s about having the heart for Jesus and striving every day to be more and more like him. This is our calling and what God desires for each of us.

And it’s a challenge.  Usually every day I must repent for something or other.

Luke 9:23:  Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

We must deny ourself, die to self, and follow Jesus, His will for our life, every day.  His will not mine.

Today is a new day and as long as God is the one in front I can do better.  For my heart is with Him.

9 thoughts on “What Does it Mean to “Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus?”

  1. Ephesians 4:7

    But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

    How thankful I am for God’s new grace and mercy each day!

  2. Hi Atoz and Happy New Year :-).

    There’s so much to say here, I don’t even know where to begin or should I just skip it and stop.

    I think Christianity is often presented too simply…or our UNDERSTANDING of it is too simple perhaps. I know I’ve heard/learned all that is required to go to heaven is “that you accept Jesus Christ is the Son of God”…or more accurately maybe “That Jesus is your Lord and Savior”. Cool. I believe Jesus is God’s Son. I try to be a good person which for most people means that I keep the commandments I remember …which means that I don’t steal, lie, commit adultery and am nice to my parents. We know we’re all sinners and Jesus came so that we won’t go to Hell. Whew. Good thing.
    We probably somewhere have a Bible, may even read it…go to church once a week…(woah…getting serious here going to church every Sunday! That person’s a committed Jesus freak!).

    In a way, because our “culture” is somewhat based on Christianity in subtle ways, i.e. everyone knows Christmas and Easter and that Jesus is in the Bible..and it’s perfectly good manners to say “God Bless You” when someone sneezes…it’s easier to fall into not making a concious (I can never spell that word right) choice to take up your cross…and believe you’re ok with God. I’m not saying that you won’t get to heaven..

    So what’s my point?

    It’s not the truth. Well, not totally.

    Being a Christian is “giving your life to Christ”. Uh huh. And how do I do that exactly? It ain’t easy. First of all…guess what? It isn’t YOUR life. HA! God didn’t make you for YOUR LIFE…he made you FOR HIM. He cares what you do every minute of your day. He cares about every word you speak. He cares about every thought you have. He cares about every dollar you make and what you do with it. He cares what happens in your bedroom and living room and kitchen table. He cares what your eyes see and what your ears hear and how much food goes into your mouth. He cares if you have clean sheets in your closet, a clean space on your kitchen table so he can send an unexpected guest.

    Bottom line is, Giving your heart…taking up your cross…it’s an every minute thing. Although I’m going to say “my pastor” LOL…forgive me…but he gave us a good idea and I use it. I have my Blackberry (Cell phone)on me all the time and I have a timer program that chimes every 15 minutes because that’s how easily I’m distracted…how easily I drop the cross. So every 15 minutes when the chime…chimes…I stop and say…am I doing what God wants? Would I be doing what I’m doing, saying what I’m saying or feeling what I’m feeling the past 15 minutes if Jesus was right here next to me? Do I need to repent?

    I hear all the time that we’re all “Sinners’. Uh huh…but I would get to the end of my day and think..um…God I know I sinned somewhere today, I’m sure…but all I did today was take care of a baby and dust and make dinner…I don’t know when I sinned…but I’m sure I did.

    BUT, with the 15 minute chime…much more aware that I sin a lot more. I whine. I’m a bit ticked right now because my daughter took a shower and she uses up all the hot water. I forget just having legs to stand in the shower or a roof over my head or clean water or a daughter not caught up in drugs should fill my heart with gratitude that I want to speak to God…oh yeah and I have a plan for today…all planned out. Who’s life is it?

    oh, yeah. God…what do YOU want me to do today?

    I may not have explained this well Atoz, but carrying one’s cross is a daily journey. Becoming more like Christ…so much to rethink and undo and repent and learn. Ever think, “ah now I get it!”…only to realize two years later…uh…no you didn’t. It was only a step in the right direction.

    Thank you for bringing up “taking up your cross”. It makes me remember…that it’s CHOICE (taking requires action on my part) and that it’s a JOURNEY of one step at a time that won’t be complete till I leave this earth. I’ll need a 15 minute reminder chime till God takes me home.

    I’m THAT A.D.D. 🙂


    1. Awesome, Nancy! Very well put. Why is the Devil in the details? Because it is in the details where we sin the most and where God dwells amongst us–in everything. I loved the 15 minute reminder. It keeps us ‘conscious’. Ha!

  3. Thank you for your post. I am also committing for more bible time. I am posting a verse from Psalms each day on my facebook page. Many people that I know personally have never read a work from the bible so this will at least give them an introduction to God’s word and I hope some curiousity seek on their own.

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