Mark 8:34 ” Then He called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said: ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.’ “

Jesus never said was going to be easy to follow Him.  By referencing the cross in this verse, Jesus not only implied how He would die, but he gave the crowd a vivid illustration of the personal cost there was to following Him.  The Jews had been introduced to this horrific means of execution by the Romans, who used it as a very effective tool of humiliation and intimidation.  This crowd had watched as criminals were paraded through the streets, carrying their own cross, to the place they would be crucified…their execution very public and meant to be totally demeaning.  But now Jesus was telling them they’d have to deny themselves to the point of complete surrender and sacrifice just as the criminals they saw in order to walk with Him.  Following Jesus will never be easy.  It starts with the willingness to give up  “self”…our selfish pride and ego as we learn to trust and obey Jesus.  It means taking up our cross – our own personal journey – in order to have fellowship with Him.  Finally, it means humbling ourselves to the point that when people look at us…they only see Jesus.

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