I get a lot of pleasure out of reading. Sometimes I’m reading a good story that captivates my attention, and it takes me away to far-off lands. Other times I feel like an explorer reading a text to uncover things about it I don’t know. I’m not bored, very often, when I’m reading something, as long as I can find something interesting in it. I really like the Bible because I can read it and be carried off by the stories it tells, or I can delve into it and discover things I didn’t know before. Often, I can read the exact same text and come away with a new understanding. There’s no other book quite like the Bible.

Such was the case today when I read this verse from Luke.

And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:27 (NIV)

The context of a verse is always important. Without the proper context, we can easily misunderstand what was said. In this verse from Luke, Jesus is talking about the cost of following Him. There’s a large crowd following Him, and He’s just told them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26 NIV). I prefer the NLT translation of this verse because it doesn’t need further explanation.

“If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.”

Luke 14:26 (NLT)

We can easily see that the Lord isn’t telling us to hate everyone else and love Him.

Now we know the context of Luke 14:27. Jesus has told the large following Him that they need to love God more than anyone or anything else, and if they don’t, they can’t be His disciple. If you’re like me when you read about bearing your cross and you think about the Lord bearing His cross, you probably receive it in the way the Amplified Bible translates the verse.

Whoever does not carry his own cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow after Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me] cannot be My disciple.

Luke 14:27 (AMP)

However, you and I have the benefit of hindsight. When we think about our Lord and Savior bearing His cross, we know He didn’t deserve His punishment. Those people who were listening would have only been familiar with what they’ve seen.

Crucifixion was a common practice by the Romans for specific types of criminals. Thieves, rapists, murderers, and the like weren’t crucified very often. However, we do know that they were crucified because there were two of them crucified when Jesus was crucified. The point behind crucifixion was to send a message about the type of crime committed. It wouldn’t be tolerated. Hence, the perpetrators would be made examples of what would happen to those who committed such crimes. Typically, crimes against the government and those that promoted unrest were met with crucifixion.

Anyone who did anything against the Romans could be selected for crucifixion. Unless they were Roman, which rarely happened. There were easier ways to exercise death sentences on criminals. Crucifixion wasn’t about executing someone, as I’ve said. It was about torturing someone to death and humiliating them. Anyone who had heard Jesus make this statement would have thought about the bodies they had seen decorating roads and being picked apart by animals. If they had witnessed a crucifixion, then they’d also be aware of the pain and agony involved. In any case, the idea of having to carry a cross was not a glamorous, desirable, or, dare I say, worthy or respectable concept.

The most interesting point, I think, is what it meant to bear one’s cross when Jesus said this. The cross criminals carried represented their crimes. Even if people didn’t agree with the punishments, they would have acknowledged the crimes.

I believe in the criminal justice system. What’s the expression, “You do the crime, you do the time”? I’d be surprised if those listening to Jesus had thought otherwise. Therefore, I find it difficult to really understand how they would have taken what Jesus said. When I think about the other examples Jesus gives; of building a tower and estimating the cost beforehand, and correcting estimating one’s troops before engaging in battle, they pale in comparison to being crucified and what it meant.

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.