In this series of posts on The Cross (not sure how many yet), I will try to examine this Christian symbol from a few different angles. In Part 1, I will look at the scriptures that deal with “Taking up your cross.”
When I first encountered this scripture, I thought it odd that Jesus was talking about “the cross” well in advance of His crucifixion. Certainly, at that point in the beginning of His ministry, His death and the method of it was quite a ways off. My first inclination was to think that maybe these were not the words of Jesus, that it was a mistranslation of some sort. There are illusions to His crucifixion in the Old Testament (Psalms 22:16: “they pierced my hands and my feet” and Zechariah 13:6 “What are these awounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was bwounded in the house of my friends”). The greek word used in that verse is σταυρός (stauros, stau-ro’s) “stake or post (as set upright), i.e. (specially), a pole or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment); figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial; by implication, the atonement of Christ:–cross.” ( Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Macdonald Publishing Company)
However, upon further reflection, I discovered that this expression, “Taking Up Your Cross” is used elsewhere in the scriptures, in addition to the New Testament, pre-crucifixion. They serve as a witness and testify to the words Jesus spoke to his disciples.
In the Book of Mormon, Jesus, speaking to the Nephites, after his death and resurrection:
“For it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your across, than that ye should be cast into hell.” (3 Nephi 12:30)
In the Doctrine & Covenants:
“Behold, I manifest unto you, Joseph Knight, by these words, that you must take up your across, in the which you must bpray cvocally before the world as well as in secret, and in your family, and among your friends, and in all places. (D&C 23:6)
“And he that will not take up his across and bfollow me, and keep my commandments, the same shall not be saved. ” (D&C 56:2)
“Now, I say unto you, and what I say unto you, I say unto all the Twelve: Arise and gird up your loins, take up your across, follow me, and bfeed my sheep” (D&C 112:14)
It seems that “taking up your cross” is an important action within the gospel, the consequences of not “taking up your cross” are grave:
- “…is not worthy of me” (Matt 10:38)
- “…let him adeny himself” (Matt 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23)
- “…cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27)
- “…ye should be cast into hell” (3 Nephi 12:30)
- “…must bpray cvocally before the world as well as in secret, and in your family, and among your friends, and in all places” (D&C 23:6)
- “…the same shall not be saved” (D&C 56:2)
- follow me, and bfeed my sheep” (D&C 112:14)
We can obviously conclude that Jesus was not commanding us to emulate Him and be crucified or even suffer as He did.
So what do you think He means by “Taking Up Your Cross?” In a Church where we minimize the symbol of the Cross, not display it in or on our meetinghouse or Temples, and not wear it around our necks, how do we do this?
How do you “Take Up the Cross daily?”