If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up the cross and follow me. — Matthew 16:24.
I’ve read this passage many times and hadn’t focused on a couple of things. The first is what we call a blooper in movies, We have Christ talking about carrying crosses before anyone ever considered that dying on the cross would be his fate. Maybe the expression “take up the cross” was already an expression. I have no other explanation.
More importantly, Christ tells his disciples that to be a follower requires denying oneself. In other words, following Jesus requires sacrifice. It requires going against the grain. I am aware that there are large churches in this country called prosperity churches that do not emphasize this part of Christ’s message, but Jesus’s words are pretty clear — expect to give up the easy life.
A follower of Christ can expect ridicule, expect getting his/her hands dirty, expect to do things others think is beneath their dignity, etc, but the rewards are worth all the denial and self-sacrifice.
PS: My good friend John answered my question. He says, “The actual Greek word used in 16:24 is “ton stauron”, which means literally ” the public display” of me. Makes sense when used this way – “the public acknowledgement of me”. Makes a lot more sense. Thank you John.