For many, the cross is nothing more than a fashionable ornament—an accessory, if you will. We can buy them in gold or sterling silver, studded with pearls or diamonds. But the cross on which Jesus died was no fashion accessory. It was a crude wooden device developed by the Romans that functioned as a literal torture rack for those who died on it.
The Bible tells us that Simon, a Cyrenian, was selected to bear the cross of Jesus. He was a visitor to Jerusalem. We don’t know why he was there that day. Maybe he was in town for the Passover, or perhaps he saw the commotion and went to see what was going on. Whatever his reason for being there, Simon was given one of the greatest privileges afforded to anyone in human history.
We, too, have that privilege today. Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Jesus is still looking for people like Simon to pick up the cross and carry it.
Sometimes people say, “My cross in life is my children. They are my cross to bear” or “My cross in life is my disability.” However, the cross is not something that is troubling us. The cross is the same for every person. And in first-century Jerusalem, the people who were carrying crosses were on their way to die.
So when Jesus said, “Take up your cross daily,” what was He saying? To take up your cross is to put God’s will above your own. It is to die to your ambitions, to your plans, and to your choices. To take up your cross is to love God more than anyone or anything else.