He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?
Following Jesus is not always easy. It hasn’t always been easy, but the rewards are incredible as there’s a peace and joy that comes in being in communion with Christ in this life, and the wonderful promise of eternal life as icing on the cake.
Some people have compared taking up our cross in the Christian life to service like in the military. (Does the song “Onward Christian Soldiers” ring a bell?)
In my faith journey I have been introduced to a follower of Jesus named Ignatius Loyola. Before becoming a priest, Ignatius was a soldier. He was severely wounded in battle and carried the physical limitations for the balance of his earthly life. But he committed the second phase of his life to being a soldier of the cross. In his service to Christ, he founded the Jesuit Order of Catholic Priests. Members of that order are heavily involved in education. I graduated from a Jesuit high school.
There is a prayer of Ignatius Loyola that I have kept pasted in my worships service book for decades. When I pause to pray it again, it helps me consider the costs I will pay to take up my cross daily and walk with Jesus.
Teach us, good Lord, to serve thee as thou deserves; to give and not count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not seek for rest; to labor and not ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.