Take Up Your Cross

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
—Matthew 16:24

OUR LORD MADE IT plain that discipleship requires a willingness to take up a cross to follow him, as well as self-denial. This did not mean that actual crucifixion was necessary for all of his disciples. Rather, the cross was symbolic.


What does ‘bearing the cross’ mean for us? It involves our doing God’s will under unfavorable conditions. If everything within us and around us was in complete harmony with God’s kingdom, the doing of his will would not be a cross. But doing the Divine will against the oppositions of the world, the flesh, and the Adversary is indeed a cross.

In our Lord’s case, his doing of God’s will amidst evil brought to him envy, hatred, malice, abuse, persecution, crucifixion, death. Our crosses come to us also as a result of doing the Father’s will under unfavorable conditions—not merely by saying we approve of God’s will. We must do God’s will day by day. If others manifest toward us coldness, resentment, bitterness, malice, abuse, we must still bear the cross!

We are to persevere in doing the will of God, even though conditions are unfavorable, and are to take up our cross daily. Nor are we to take it up one day and put it down the next. Rather, we are to be faithful in crossbearing against all opposition, maintaining our willingness to stand firmly for the Lord, for the Truth, and for every principle of righteousness—meekly, humbly, yet firmly. Also, we are to let our light shine before men, and to speak the Truth in love, and thereby grow in Christlikeness, fulfilling the words of Philippians 2:15,16, shining as lights in the world and holding forth the Word of life.

We are to do our Father’s will no matter what the cost to us. Earthly friendships may be broken, or enmities enkindled, or evil words spoken against us falsely for Christ’s sake. We must continue self-denial, self-sacrifice, and to bear the cross, being fully conscious of our Lord’s words, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”—Matt. 7:21


The Scriptures exhort us to be faithful. Indeed, we are to be faithful ambassadors of Jesus Christ in a most wonderful ministry. “All things are from that God who has reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given to us the ministry of the reconciliation; namely, That God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting to them their offences; and has deposited with us the word of the reconciliation. On behalf of Christ, therefore, we are ambassadors; as if God were inviting through us, we entreat, on behalf of Christ,—be you reconciled to God!”—II Cor. 5:18-20, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott

This is a marvelous and joyful service. And our ambassadorship is to continue throughout our earthly pilgrimage. There is to be faithfulness unto death. Upon passing over into the glorious heavenly phase of the kingdom, and being actually partakers of the Divine nature with our glorified Lord and Head, we can be assured to rest from labors and that our “works do follow.”—Rev. 14:13

Whoever will now grow in Christlikeness, faithfully exercising his ambassadorship, not shunning to declare the whole counsel of God, will surely know something of the sufferings of Christ, and will be able to say, “The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.” (Rom. 15:3) Jesus did faithfully bear witness unto the Truth, and he proved his loyalty in connection with it; and we are exhorted to do the same.


Let none of us suffer as busybodies. (I Pet. 4:15) If we do, that is not the cross to which Jesus refers. But suffering as a Christian, with Christ, because we are doing our Father’s will against all oppositions of the world, the flesh, and the Adversary, is bearing the cross.

“Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27) We have a wonderful leader and it is a joyous privilege to follow him, “the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”—Heb. 12:2


We are exhorted to consider him attentively who endured such opposition from sinners, so that we may not be wearied and discouraged in our minds. (Heb. 12:3,4) Indeed, by comparison, we suffer very little.

Do we at times complain and become weary and discouraged? Consider Jesus. Study and meditate upon his course of action; how and what he overcame by the power of the Holy Spirit. Consider his sublime words of instruction to us—his gracious words of encouragement—and his wonderful promises to help.

We cannot, in our own strength, carry the cross; but with the Lord’s help, we can. With renewed determination and zeal let us deny self utterly, take up our cross daily, and follow Jesus; demonstrating absolute loyalty of heart under extreme and severe tests, manifesting full self-renunciation, full consecration. We are to be completed as New Creatures through sufferings, even as Jesus was completed in the same manner.

Jesus, our faithful leader and victorious forerunner, now beyond the veil, awaits our arrival. Our beloved Lord and Head, also the greater part of his body members, have successfully finished their course—faithful unto death. The end of our pilgrim journey is almost in sight. “Be thou faithful unto death,” said Jesus, “and I will give thee a crown of life.”—Rev. 2:10

The consummation, if we are faithful, will mean joint-heirship with Jesus in glory. This is the greatest position in the whole universe that we could ever hope to attain. It will include sharing the glory of God with his dear Son forever, being made partakers of the Divine nature. It will mean having a share in that glorified ‘seed’ of Abraham—joint inheritors with Jesus in all that is comprehended in that great oathbound promise. It will include the raising of earth’s dead billions, and the bringing in of blessing to all the families of the earth.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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