WHAT YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT TAKING UP YOUR CROSS by Michael Horton for Core Christianity
Editorial note: In Episode 394 of Core Christianity, How Do We Take up Our Cross?, someone asked, “In Mark 8:34-38, when Jesus calls his disciples to take up their cross, is this about our discipleship? Can you explain what Jesus means by this?”Mark 8:34–38 says,
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Here is Michael Horton’s answer:
Well, the most important thing here as elsewhere is to distinguish the law from the gospel. The law commands, but the gospel gives. We can’t look to the law for our salvation and justification before God. And the gospel doesn’t command; the gospel announces what God has done for us in Christ. But Jesus meant what he said here.
It’s law. It’s a command. We are to take up our cross. But we have to distinguish our cross from his. His cross is gospel; our cross is a command. It’s a law. But Jesus bore the curse of sin and death for us, in our place. We could never bear the brunt of God’s righteous wrath against sin, but Jesus is the spotless lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.