Video by Got Questions Ministries

The morning air was still as Jesus gathered his disciples. Peter had just confessed Him as Christ, the promised Messiah.

Expectations were high that he would establish His kingdom here on earth. But Jesus had something else to say.

“The Son of Man must suffer…and be killed…”

Mark 8:31 (NIV)

You could have heard a pin drop as the disciples struggled to grasp Jesus’ words. Peter finally broke the silence with an emphatic rebuke:

“Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Matthew 16:22 (NIV)

Jesus wheeled around, and fixing his gaze on Peter said:

“Get behind me, Satan!”

Matthew 16:23 (NIV)

Then Jesus said to his disciples:

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

This is one of the most well-known yet misunderstood sayings in the Gospels. Let’s take a closer look at what Jesus meant by this statement and what it means for us today.

The Shocking Prediction: A Suffering Messiah

A Suffering Messiah

The disciples had anticipated a powerful deliverer who would conquer Israel’s enemies.

Instead, Jesus was inviting them to a radical call of discipleship…one that involved self-denial, cross-bearing, and sacrifice.

Jesus told His disciples:

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected…and be killed, and after three days rise again.”

Mark 8:31 (ESV)

His words shocked the disciples to the core. God’s promised rescuer crucified? Israel’s longed-for King shamed and killed? This wasn’t the triumph they expected.

Jesus was redefining Messiahship around self-sacrifice rather than power. A hefty price that the disciples struggled to embrace.

Can you blame them? We often want the glamor without the pain. The crown without the cross.

Peter’s Rebuke: Rejecting the Way of the Cross

Peter's Rebuke: Rejecting the Way of the Cross

Outspoken Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked him:

“Never Lord! This shall never happen to you!”

Matthew 16:22 (NIV)

Peter refused to accept a suffering Savior. He wanted triumph minus the loss.

But Jesus recognized the voice behind Peter’s protest.

“Get behind me Satan!,” Jesus said, “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns”

Mark 8:33 (NIV)

Just as Satan offered Jesus earthly power without sacrifice (Matthew 4:8-9), now he offered the same empty lie through Peter.

Are you sometimes guilty of the same perspective? More captivated with what you can get from God than what you can give for His Kingdom?

Take Up Your Cross: The Paradox of Losing to Gain

Take Up Your Cross

Jesus calls us to a radically different value system:

“34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

Mark 8:34-35 (NKJV)

This is the call to discipleship: Following Jesus whatever it costs…even unto death.

It’s a life paradoxically gained through loss…triumph mysteriously attained through defeat. We see life springing from death.

Christ himself modeled this sacrificial path to glory. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote:

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

Counting the Cost: What Do We Gain If We Lose Our Souls?

Counting The Cost Of Discipleship

Jesus urges us to evaluate what has lasting value:

36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

Mark 8:36-37 (NIV)

What’s more precious than your soul? Yet how easily we sell out eternal treasure for temporary trinkets!

Does your life reflect that anything is truly more valuable than following Jesus?

Take Up Your Cross Today: Embracing the Call to Discipleship

Find A Supportive Community

If we were to be asked, we’d prefer a safe, comfortable Christianity. One that promises gain without pain.

However, Jesus offers something far more profound: a life of meaning gained through self-sacrifice.

While the world promotes self-glorification, Jesus calls us to self-denial. To live for God’s kingdom, not for our own selfish interest.

This is the narrow road less traveled with few travelers. But it leads to life’s deepest fulfillment.

We take up the cross by:

  • Dying to selfish ambition.
  • Putting eternal rewards ahead of earthly gain.
  • Choosing righteousness over compromise.
  • Embracing hardship for the sake of the Gospel.
  • Finding purpose in pain when lives are changed.

Jesus bore the cross for you. Now he invites you to bear your cross and discover the life for which you were made. A life given away out of love for God.

As Scottish preacher James Denney wrote:

“No man can follow Christ and go astray.”

So let’s embrace His call to take up our cross and follow Him daily!

Key Takeaways:

  • Jesus shocked His disciples by predicting his sacrificial death on the cross.
  • Peter rejected the way of the cross, desiring an earthly Messiah.
  • Jesus calls every disciple to radical self-denial and cross-bearing.
  • Following Christ means losing your life for His sake and the Gospel.
  • Jesus asks us to evaluate if anything is truly more valuable than Him.
  • You must count the cost, willing to sacrifice all to gain your soul.
  • Daily cross-bearing involves dying to self and living for God’s Kingdom.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What does “take up your cross” mean?

A. It means embracing the path of sacrifice, service, and radical obedience to Christ, even when it’s difficult or leads to persecution.

Just as Jesus literally carried his cross to the crucifixion, we figuratively “carry our cross” by giving our lives to Jesus whatever the cost.

Q. What are some ways I can take up my cross daily?

A. You take up your cross through both small daily choices and major life decisions:

  • Say no to temptations.
  • Serve those in need.
  • Give generously to the needy in society.
  • Share your faith openly.
  • Speak up for the truth.
  • Face ridicule without compromising your faith.
  • Follow Jesus even in challenging situations.
  • Surrender your dreams and plans when He says so.

Q. Why do I need to die to myself?

A. Because the old self-focused nature only seeks its own interests and cannot fully follow Christ.

By dying to your innate selfishness through the power of the Holy Spirit, you can live sacrificially for God’s glory.

Q. What should I do if I feel resistant to this kind of discipleship?

A. Honestly examine the reservations in your heart in prayer. Ask God to give you a willingness to follow Jesus even when it’s counter-cultural or difficult.

Trust that living His way, not yours, leads to life’s deepest fulfilments. Die to the “self” and its natural resistance daily.

Q. How can I find the strength to keep embracing the cross?

A. Focus on Christ who endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). Let His sacrificial love and example inspire and empower you.

Rely on the Holy Spirit within rather than your own strength. Remain rooted in a supportive Christian community. Remember it leads to purposeful living.

Let Jesus’ radical call lead you to radical obedience. Have the courage to take up your cross! Jesus walked this lonely road of sacrifice before us and He walks with us still.

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