Carrying His Cross

As Jesus approached Jerusalem, he explained what being the Messiah meant, namely, suffering and death. This expectation was contrary to popular messianic expectations. He also summoned his disciples to take up the Cross and follow his example. Failure to do so would render them objects of shame before the Lord of Glory on the Last Day.

Jesus placed the primary responsibility for his death on the “Elders and High Priests and Scribes.” The Torah-observant religious leaders of the Jewish nation conspired to deliver him into the hands of Pontius Pilate for execution - (Mark 8:31).

Rough Cross - Photo by Bobbie Wallace on Unsplash
[Photo by Bobbie Wallace on Unsplash]

As his entourage neared the city, he “b
egan to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the Elders and the High Priests and the Scribes and be killed, and after three days, he would rise.” In response, Peter took him aside and “reproved him.”

Jesus declared this “plainly.” It was not an enigmatic saying and the fact that Peter reacted so sharply demonstrates that he understood his words but did not like what he heard. The idea that the Messiah would be killed by the nation’s greatest enemy, and through the plotting of the priestly authorities was intolerable to a patriotic Jew.

In response, Jesus “turned around, looked at his disciples,” and rebuked the Devil. Although Peter said the words, the rebuke was for the benefit of all twelve disciples since he had voiced what they all thought. Furthermore, he recognized that Peter’s words originated from Satan.

Certainly, his mission was to destroy Satan and his strongholds, But, as Scripture itself attested, the Messiah would accomplish this through suffering and death:

  • Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes, we are healed” - (Isaiah 53:4-6).

An incorrect understanding of the Messiah would produce an incorrect understanding of what it meant to be his disciple. Just as God called Jesus to self-denial and suffering, so he summoned his disciples to walk that same path.

Thus, he called his followers to deny themselves, “take up the cross,” and follow him no matter where it leads. “Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake will save it.”

In his summons, he used the analogy of “taking up the cross.” Not only did this hint at how he would die, but he also presented his audience with a frightening image. Crucifixion was used by Rome to execute rebellious slaves and political revolutionaries. The condemned man was forced to carry the crossbar on which he would be hung to the execution site, adding humiliation to his other sufferings.

Jesus identified himself with Isaiah’s ‘Suffering Servant’ and the “Son of Man” portrayed in the Book of Daniel. The former illustrated his suffering and death for his people, the latter his arrival in glory at the end of the age. Both images are necessary for understanding his identity and mission. While glory will come, it does NOT precede suffering, and death, but only comes afterward.

  • Ransom for Many - (His disciple is called to engage in self-sacrificial service for others just as Jesus gave his life as a ransom for many – Mark 10:35-45)
  • Road to Calvary - (On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus explained his Messianic Mission and predicted his inevitable death at the hands of his enemies - Mark 8:27-38)
  • The Servant of the LORD - (At his baptism in the Jordan, the voice from heaven identified Jesus as the Son of God and the Servant of Yahweh)



Salvation for the Nations

His Name is Jesus