Take up His cross?


In all three of the synoptic gospels Jesus says “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23 RSV).

Why did the crowds and disciples not run screaming when they heard that? Was “take up your cross” a common term in the time of Christ? I thought that crucifiction was considered an abhorant death for Jews, as dying haning from a tree was considered accursed? I am trying to understand if those who say the Bible is not the literal words of Jesus are perhaps correct, or if I am missing something and in fact there is a reason people did not run screaming when they heard this. Or did they?

Please help.


Dear basoldier,

We aren’t sure that those listening to Jesus understood what He meant by “take up your cross.” They often didn’t catch the significance of what He was saying and only later understood. That HE Himself was actually going to be crucified was not at all clear to those who were listening to Him. On the other hand, we DO understand what He meant and we don’t run out of the church, screaming.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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