procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Monday, August 18, 2008

take up your cross

how do you understand the take up your cross passage?
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
Matthew 16:24 (cf Matthew 10:38, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, Luke 14:27)

is it:
  1. follow Jesus, even to the point of death?
  2. forget who you are, think only of the crucified Christ?
  3. to follow Jesus is to count your life as cursed?

i always thought the third, but realise others feel quite differently about it. mind you, i've never thought super-deeply about which it is.
compounded with that, there is (at the very least) an element of truth in each of my options.
there may of course be other readings.

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Anonymous Dave Miers said...

HERE is an excerpt of some stuff I wrote on Mark 8 back in June.

To take up your cross is to die. Die to self. Die to the world. Taking up your cross in this life involves losing your life here and now, but gaining life for eternity (Mark 8:35). Jesus suffered and it’s normal for his followers to suffer.

i linked the statement "take up your cross" to losing your life for the gospel in Mark 8:35.

i haven't thought about #3 in the way you've worded it. i think you're right, though, that there is probably truth in each of your statements.

i think my quote above is a combo of all of them???

i dunno...

8:35 pm  
Blogger reuben// said...


I'd say it means die to this world and it futile grasping at life. even literally if necessary (similar to #1)

In the gospels I think at this point the disciples haven't comprehended the enormity of what God is doing in Christ. Following on God's trajectory meant following Jesus to his death, since paradoxically the only way to gain life eternally is for jesus to die.

so stop clinging to this worlds way of getting 'life', follow jesus to the cross, die with him and have life in him. I don't think this is meant to be too abstract though. following by living this way may come at the cost of your life literally (and it did for many of those he spoke to that day)

I think i get the gist of #3 but what do you mean by cursed?

10:20 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

i think i have always read it as recognising that at this point in the gospel narrative(s) Jesus was yet on his way to the cross, as he showed that what mattered to him was not to follow his own desires, but to follow the will of his father. he counted his life as cursed, he was willing to take the sign of the cross, the sign of cursing, as he looked towards following the will of his father.
so out of that comes 1, but not the other way around (maybe?), and as for 2, thinking in a Biblical-Theology kind-of-way, he is yet to be crucified. what did it mean for him to say this then and there to his disciples?
i think my problem with 1 is that i don't think Jesus is for a moment saying that what he is to do is what they also should do (that is, die for the sins of the world).
to say that is what it is about is what you then need to allegorise, as DMDC sort of does above (with no maliciousness intended!).
come back at me if you want :)

11:49 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

following Jesus ... living a life of faith that trusts in God's will for us in every moment of our lives. Trust, that is not mere intellectual consent but trust that involves our affections that delight in the way of God. This does not in anyway negate the way God has made us, including our desires and wills for the good things of creation. So I don't want to count my life as cursed nor irrelavant (niether 2 nor 3). But I want to have faith in God's way even if it involves death, that it is for the joy of tasting life, just like Jesus.

10:33 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

hi anon. thanks for your thoughts.
i sort of agree. but sort of disagree.
when i think about our will and desire, at base, they are evil.
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery...(Mark 7.21)
i don't deny the innate goodness of creation, and that God's grace overflows, and blesses the work of men, whether or not they acknowledge him as Lord.
To thus count your life as cursed is not to deny that, but to sacrifice your own wills and desires to those of God for you and for his creation.
i think the way you put some of what you said could be misconstrued to say that there will be harmony between God's desire and our desire if we follow Jesus.
i see that when i think of solomon's (short-lived) humility in 1 Kings 8 (esp. v58). even this great king needed to count his life as gift, his wisdom and renown as gift, his keeping from sin as gift.

in short, i don't think 3 discounts the goodness, but maintains a healthy recognition of God's sovereignty, and our culpability.

10:48 am  
Blogger geoffc said...

"and as for 2, thinking in a Biblical-Theology kind-of-way, he is yet to be crucified. what did it mean for him to say this then and there to his disciples?"

I hate that I think of this straight away, but what if Jesus didn't actually say it and the author put it in there because he wanted it to challenge the readers who already knew the outcome of Jesus life?

Am I thinking too much like a liberal?

8:06 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well of course it is something the early church tacked on. Since none of you are remotely interested in undergoing an early church martyrdom, why the interest?

7:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


8:35 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

Cheers Geoff
i do think that you can have a both-and approach, in that both Jesus said this, and to it was added extra meaning afterwards.
that as we think about what it means to count our life as cursed (as i've defined this in response to anon.), that this may involve going to the cross.

hi anon (not sure if you're the same anon or not)
why is your first assumption that it must have been tacked on? and by early church do you mean C2? C3? which persecution added to it being added? and why is that more plausible for it to have been written by someone who knew Jesus and saw him crucified and raised again?

8:34 am  
Blogger psychodougie said...

and that's great about harry potter. ??? cheers for the link. i guess.

8:35 am  
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7:45 pm  

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