“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Jesus’ declarations always seem radical to the natural mind—the mind that is not full of the Spirit. For example, most people would assume Jesus came to bring peace into this world which so desperately needs peace. However, this is not what Jesus says. He did not come to bring peace, but a sword. A sword always brings division or separation. It’s not that Jesus wanted to bring division, he just knew his coming would bring division and separation.
Often, when a person becomes a true follower of Christ, others don’t like it, particularly within families who worship other gods. So the reality of choosing to follow Christ may be one where man turns against his father, a daughter turns against her mother and a man’s enemies become his own family members. Parents often feel betrayed if one of their children becomes a follower of Christ. Being ostracized is common across families of any other religion because Christ commands us to follow Him wholeheartedly.
In Matthew 10, Jesus is preparing to send out the Twelve disciples to evangelize Jews throughout Israel. However, before sending them, he warns them of the costs involved. Even while he is giving them instructions, John the Baptist is being held in a Roman prison, soon to be beheaded.
In warning the Twelve, Jesus used a symbol that carried a very clear message—the cross.
To a person in the first-century, the cross meant one thing and one thing only: death by the most painful and humiliating means human beings could conjure.
Two thousand years later, Christians view the cross as a cherished symbol of atonement, forgiveness, grace, and love. But in Jesus’ day, the cross represented nothing but torturous death. Because the Romans forced convicted criminals to carry their own crosses to the place of crucifixion, bearing a cross meant carrying their own execution device while facing ridicule along the way to death.*
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “When God calls a man, he bids him come and die.” When Jesus calls a person to come and follow Him, it is a radical call upon one’s life. To follow Christ always involves a cost. Thus, a person must be willing to die to his or her hopes, dreams, possessions, even one’s very life, if need be, for the cause of Christ.
And in turn, God promises to change one’s heart and fill it with new hopes, new dreams and an eternity spent dwelling in His love and righteousness.
If you wonder if you are ready to take up your cross, consider these questions:
- Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing some of your closest friends?
- Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means alienation from your family?
- Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means the loss of your reputation?
- Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your job?
- Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your life?
In some places around the world, these costs are a reality; however, this does not mean that you will experience all of these. Jesus just wants to see a willingness to accept whatever circumstances arise due to your association with his Name. Darlene Rose, a missionary to New Guinea during World War II, said, “Following Jesus is costly; however, the compensations far outweigh the costs.” So, are you willing to take up your cross and truly follow Jesus?
* “What did Jesus mean when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me”?” Got Questions Ministries, accessed
August 19, 2022,[ https://www.gotquestions.org/take-up-your-cross.html]