Take Up Your Cross

Read: Matthew 16:21-26

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (v. 24 NIV)

What does it look like to follow Jesus? Peter was confident he knew how to follow Jesus. Chosen and called to follow Jesus (Matt. 4:19), Peter had spent every waking moment with him. When Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter said boldly, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (16:15-16). In response, Jesus proclaimed that Peter’s confession would form the foundation of the church. However, for all that Peter thought he knew, he often missed the mark. Right after Peter’s declaration that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus told his disciples where his path would lead: to Jerusalem, where he would suffer, die, and then rise again after three days.

Peter refused to accept it. He took Jesus aside to correct him: “This shall never happen to you” (v. 22). But Jesus rebuked him: “Get behind me, Satan!” Peter’s words weren’t from God but reflected merely human concerns (v. 23). When we choose to follow Jesus, we’ll need to deny ourselves and take up our cross (v. 24) too. This is the only way to save our life. We can gain everything else, but if we don’t follow Jesus all the way, that gain is actually loss (vv. 25-26).

Following Jesus is not a path up to power, fame, wealth, security, or success. Instead, it’s a path downward in humility. This month, we’ll follow the path Jesus walked and learn how to take up our cross too.

As you pray, ask Jesus to help you take up your cross and follow him.

About the Author

Stephen Shaffer is the pastor at Bethel Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario.

This entry is part 2 of 31 in the series Looking to Jesus