Take up your cross and follow me
Jesus says, “Take up your cross and follow me”. Given I wear a cross most of the time this doesn’t sound too hard. Our churches are decorated with them. Some people go around wearing big styley ones. For others they are cool jewellery. These crosses were far from the minds of those first disciples.
Just before this Sundays reading from Matthew they were euphoric. Peter had proclaimed Jesus as messiah and he was now "rock on which to build". And then Jesus blows their minds with talk of defeat and execution and when Peter objects he gets renaming "stumbling rock". He goes on - "Take up your cross and follow me".
It is hard to imagine a saying more offensive, more confrontational, more likely to get people moving in the other direction. Jesus was shaking all the old assumptions out of them. He wanted them to see their identity not in what they did or had done. So what Peter got it right momentarily. That was not so important. Only one thing would get them through what came next – knowing who they were only in terms of God’s love and faithfulness. Paul was the same. We are simply to be defined by the character of God revealed in the story of Jesus. Taking up a cross allows for nothing else.