Taking up Our Cross

Many years before His crucifixion, Jesus used the imagery of the cross to describe the burden of discipleship:

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Matthew 16:24; see also Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23

In Joseph Smith’s revision of the Bible, the Savior adds the following explanation: “And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments.” (See Matthew 16:25-26, JST.)

Some time later, Jesus was approached by a young ruler who wanted to know what he needed to do to receive eternal life. He was apparently hoping for an easy path or perhaps even an affirmation that he was already on the right track. To his disappointment, the Savior invited him to make an extraordinary sacrifice: “Sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me” (Luke 18:22). In Luke’s and Matthew’s version of this account, the Savior tells this young man to “come” and to “follow me” (Matthew 19:21), but in Mark’s version, the Savior inserts the expression from the preceding passage: “Come, take up the cross, and follow me,” He says (Mark 10:21, italics added).

During the Savior’s ministry on the American continent, He delivered the Sermon on the Mount with some variation. In this version of the sermon, He inserts the following text immediately after urging the people to overcome lust:

Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart;

For it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell.

3 Nephi 12:29-30

It sounds like following Jesus involves voluntarily carrying a cross. This cross signifies the sorrow and discomfort we feel as we give away earthly baggage, including our sins and our unneeded possessions.

Today I will remember that coming unto Christ includes taking up my cross. I will make the effort to willingly abandon sins and other habits which encumber me and hold me back from following Him fully.

2 thoughts on “Taking up Our Cross

Add yours

  1. Thanks. This post answers my question. Why would the Savior use the image of taking up a cross before he was crucified? I appreciate your research and will ponder this idea again. Mom

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