What Jesus Did! 'Take Up Your Cross' — Matthew 10:38-39

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

[Jesus continued his warning and instructions to the apostles when he sent them out:] "If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it."
— Matthew 10:38-39 NLT

Key Thought

Far from being a decorative piece of jewelry, the cross in Jesus' day was something hideous and shameful. Roman citizens weren't allowed to be crucified. Decent citizens weren't executed on a cross. Only the scum, riffraff, and hideous were humiliated and tortured by crucifixion. In fact, the words crucify and cross were considered to be very crude words not allowed in polite Greek society. The Jews even had Scripture that suggested that anyone who was placed on a cross was cursed by God. So for Jesus to say "Take up your cross" was shocking. Why a cross? Can't you think of something better? Nope! Nothing can symbolize God's love, man's inhumanity, sin's ugly putrefying power in the world, Satan's hatred, and God's forgiveness quite like a cross, since a cross is where Jesus paid for our sins and absorbed Satan's worst deadly blow. In that cross, God's righteous demands were satisfied and our sins forgiven. Jesus gave up his life on a cross for us and asks us to give our lives in service to him.

Today's Prayer

Oh gracious and sacrificial Father, may I never boast in my deeds, but always look to Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross as my source of righteousness. Through your cleansing and empowering Spirit, please help me to surrender my life, my heart, my sin, and my dreams to you. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Galatians 6:14
  • 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; 2:1-2
  • Hebrews 12:2-3


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Illustration of Matthew 10:38-39 NLT — "If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it."

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.