Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | September 18, 2015

Take up Your Cross and Follow Me!

Taking Up Your Cross

A Christian friend in India wrote to me recently asking about the meaning of Matthew 10:38. Having heard so many different interpretations of that verse I decided to offer what I believe to be the Biblical interpretation of its meaning.

In Matthew 10:38 is written:

“38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

What was Rome’s Point?

Taking up your cross was essentially an admission that you agreed with Rome on your punishment; Rome was right in requiring your death and you demonstrated your agreement by carrying your own cross on which you were to die.

As Christians when we take up our cross we are admitting God is right, we are worthy of death and the only answer to our problem is death on the cross.

We carried our cross when we identified ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and demonstrated in our lives that we belong to Christ and were spiritually joined with Him as our old nature was crucified with Christ.

When were you Crucified?

Taking up your cross is one thing but being crucified puts it into another realm entirely; this is getting serious. When were we crucified? Let’s let Paul explain this to us in Romans 6:6-11 where it is written:

“6 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.”

What Does this Mean?

Taking up our cross was an admission that we agreed with God, we were incorrigible as we were, we were beyond any hope of redemption; there was absolutely nothing we could do on our own that would save us. Our only hope was for our old nature to die so we could be raised again with Christ and be born again by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The baptism Paul is talking about here is the baptism of the Holy Spirit which places us into the eternal assembly, the body of Christ. Paul clarifies this point in 1 Corinthians 12:13b where it is written:

“But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”

Water baptism is a symbolic, public acknowledgement of what had already happened in our lives at the spiritual level when we were born again by faith.

As those who have already been crucified we no longer take up our cross but must be focused on the work and ministry of our Lord and let Him live His life through us.

My favorite life verse is Galatians 2:20 where it is written:

“20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

So you see, as Christians we have already taken up our cross and followed Christ in death. Our old nature died with Christ on the cross when we received Christ as Savior and the lives we now live is the life of Christ; we live by faith in the Son of God.

I’ll leave you with a question. If we died in Christ then what is this event we call death? In Hebrews 9:27 we are told, “27 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment” Anyone interested in pursuing that line of inquiry?


  1. Thanks for posting this article. It carries a great message.
    Hanna Awwad


  2. Shedding our earthly bodies and joining our Saviour in Heaven.


  3. Really interesting! I think you’re right.


  4. Beautifully said, David. As always you cleared up a section of scripture often taken out of context. You asked about the Hebrew passage re: “dying once and then judgment”, can you comment on the newest movie, “90 Minutes in Heaven”
    Thanks for the Blessing you are to each of us who read your Blog!


    • Carol,
      Thank you for your kind words. Regarding “90 Minutes in Heaven” neither have I seen the movie nor read the book so I cannot comment on either. What I do believe with complete conviction is the testimony of the Bible can be completely trusted as a guide to truth.


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