And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. Matthew 10:38
At the time Jesus said this there were no religious connotations regarding the cross. It was, plain and simple, an instrument of death for convicted criminals. The condemned was rejected and cut off from his people. The cross was not thought of as a burden one must carry (an absurd notion), nor was it even remotely considered as something someone would do every day. It took religious institutions to pass that hoax off. ONCE was all there was to it. It meant death. Death in the worst way possible, for the condemned hung naked for all to see ... with his crimes written out and nailed above him. He had nothing to hide, everybody saw it as they passed by to make their rejection known.
For Jesus to suggest they take up their cross and follow HIM sounded absurd. They all had to be thinking, Why would he be talking about carrying a cross? And who in their right mind would follow him in such a thing? To capture the sense of it today we would have to hear something like, "He that follows me must sit in his electric chair." The romance is lost for us in that, isn't it?
Somehow, we have learned to emphasize the words that seem to put us in control of the situation, as in, "And he who does not TAKE HIS CROSS AND FOLLOW me is not worthy of me." Our misplaced emphasis here suggests that our following the program will make us worthy. Unless he really said, "And he who does not follow ME is not worthy of ME;"
The difference? How about the fact that all revolves around Jesus and not an activity called following. Scrutinize what it means to follow and you'll will quickly see how subjective it becomes. On the other hand, to follow JESUS is in contrast to our following everyone else. Why? Because Jesus Christ is the only one who is found on the OTHER side of death. The life that is found on THIS side of death is that of man, and it is unworthy of Christ. It is found in the realm of sin and death of which sin is master.
Everybody was looking for something familiar, but better than they had. Jesus shocked them with the declaration that those who LOSE their life will find it. Sound familiar?
I have been crucified with Christ (took up his cross), nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life I now live I live by faith in the son of God (and follow after HIM) who gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20 and Matthew 10:38
What Jesus said in Matthew 10 put the life he spoke of OUT OF REACH by everyone in THIS life. But the seed that fell to the ground died and bore much fruit. That's us.
The word of the cross is to those that perish FOOLISHNESS, but to us who are being saved it is the POWER of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18
Do we listen to Matthew 10:38-39 from the perspective of foolishness ... or as power?