Jesus said to his Apostles:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth.
I have come to bring not peace but the sword.
For I have come to set
a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s enemies will be those of his household.
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
“Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is righteous
will receive a righteous man’s reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because he is a disciple–
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”
When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples,
he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.
(Matthew 10:34 – 11:1)
10:38 The first mention of the cross in Matthew, explicitly that of the disciple, but implicitly that of Jesus (and follow after me). Crucifixion was a form of capital punishment used by the Romans for offenders who were not Roman citizens.
10:39 One who denies Jesus in order to save one’s earthly life will be condemned to everlasting destruction; loss of earthly life for Jesus’ sake will be rewarded by everlasting life in the kingdom.
10:40–42 All who receive the disciples of Jesus receive him, and God who sent him, and will be rewarded accordingly.
10:41 A prophet: one who speaks in the name of God; here, the Christian prophets who proclaim the gospel. Righteous man: since righteousness is demanded of all the disciples, it is difficult to take the righteous man of this verse and one of these little ones (Mt 10:42) as indicating different groups within the followers of Jesus. Probably all three designations are used here of Christian missionaries as such.
The idea of taking up a cross is often used by Christians today as a metaphor to describe bearing with life’s regular burdens: a long wait in traffic, a difficult boss, a cold. However, for the first-century Jews, the image of taking up a cross evoked horror and shame.
Crucifixion was the cruelest form of execution used by the Roman government. It was intended not only to punish rebels by inflicting as much physical pain as possible but also to maximize humiliation, sending a signal to other potential rebels not to revolt against Rome. The criminal’s public shaming began when he took up his crossbeam and carried it through the city streets amid the mockery of the crowds.
Therefore when Jesus says the true disciple must “take up his cross,” he is not merely calling for acceptance of life’s little inconveniences and hardships. He is calling his disciples to be willing to give up everything, even their lives if necessary, to follow him.
– Curtis Mitch
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.