Take Your Cross And Follow Me: Mark 8:34 Meaning

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Take up your cross and follow me

These are the words of Jesus reflected in Mark 8:34. In the previous verses (v. 31-33), Peter had just objected to the idea that Jesus would die.

It is claimed that Peter rebuked Christ (v. 32). Jesus, in turn, lectured Peter for objecting. So Jesus tells us what must happen if a man or a woman wants to follow him.

And he summoned the crowd with his disciples, and said to them: “If anyone wants to come after me, deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” In Mark 8:34 Jesus is saying that anyone who wants to follow Him must take up His cross .

For Christians, the cross symbolizes salvation. Jesus knew that the cross was in his future. He told his disciples that in order to be his followers, they must “take up their cross.” What did Jesus mean when he said this, in this article we are going to examine what that means in practical terms.

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Take up your cross and follow me. Meaning

Below we will break down the phrase and explain what each fragment of it means:

Take up your cross

Jesus was teaching the disciples about his impending death and resurrection when the impulsive Peter took him aside (quite a bold move!) And says, “Never, Lord! This will never happen to you! ” Matthew 16:22 NIV. Peter had good intentions; he loved Jesus and couldn’t bear to think of him suffering. He still didn’t understand Jesus’ purpose.

Jesus then continues in verse 24:

“If someone wants to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”

This must have surprised the disciples. They knew what it meant to carry a cross. The crucifixion was for criminals. Nails, torment, and agony were well known. When Jesus told his followers that they should pick up their cross to follow him, it didn’t seem like a pretty proposition.

It doesn’t sound like something someone would voluntarily participate in. But Jesus had a deeper meaning in mind. He wanted them to “put to death” their own plans and desires and give their lives to him, doing his will. This would require self-denial and obedience.

What does this imply

To be a follower of Jesus, He asks for 100% total dedication and not turning back. No wonder we still rebel sometimes! It requires crushing our ego and putting God’s purposes, will, and thoughts in their place.

Jesus tells us that we have to deny ourselves and take up our cross, but it is not something that is imposed on his shoulders. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24 NIV

It is a choice; something we do willingly, as Jesus did. We belong to Him, our old passions and desires are dead. When we take up our cross, our lives center on Jesus and reflect his attributes.

So carrying your cross meant that I was dragging it and you finally reached the place where the soldiers would crucify you. Therefore, the point of Jesus is that you must be so committed to denying yourself, to the point that you are willing to die for Christ.

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And follow me!

Then Jesus added what should happen after a believer, or Christian, takes up his cross . If a believer is truly willing to die for Christ, he will follow Christ. An important illustration of the following of Christ occurred in Luke 5: 1-11. On this occasion, the disciples had already been asked to follow Jesus on two previous occasions.

What happened this time was so incredible that the disciples:

“They left everything and followed him.” Luke 5:11 (NASB)

When they brought the boats ashore, they left everything and followed him. Note that they dropped everything and followed him.

This is an excellent example of Jesus’ command to “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” No one will truly follow Christ if he continues to be more interested in himself than in Christ.

Jesus does not give us the option to call Him our Savior and Lord as we continue to fulfill our own desires and longings. We must deny ourselves, to the point of being willing to achieve death. This is the character of a true follower of Christ.

What does it mean to deny yourself

Christ says that the starting point is to “deny” ourselves. The Greek word for “deny” is aparneomai . It is a strong word that means that a person must refuse to think about himself. This is a strong statement. It is an image of the complete denial of your own wishes and desires.

Only the words “deny ourselves” sound like punishment. It seems that we have to ditch all our comforts and carry a heavy load. But denying yourself is not the same as denying yourself .

On the other hand, when we deny ourselves, we make a decision to replace our desires, thoughts, and plans with God’s thoughts and purposes.

We live our lives focused on putting others first before ourselves. Jesus was the perfect example, and when we choose to follow him we agree to live as he did. This means accepting the call to do things you wouldn’t normally do!

Our lives then bear fruit that shows our commitment to living our lives for Christ. But it is not easy to deny ourselves. Our sinful human nature gives in to temptations and we sin. The desire to express ourselves in the way we want is strong. We will continue in this fight for holiness all our lives.


The good news for believers is that we will see a progression in our lives to deny thoughts and actions that are not like Christ. Following the guidance of the Holy Spirit helps us on our way.

 “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. ” Romans 8: 5 NIV.

What does the cross represent?

The cross represents the fulfilled prophecy . God apparently his plan to defeat Satan and give us salvation through Jesus in Genesis! ( Genesis 3:15 ). The cross in the days of Jesus symbolized the brutal and shameful death of a slave or criminal.

The cross represents the suffering that Jesus endured. Psalm 22 records David’s despair and anguish over his own sufferings. It is an amazing and accurate description of the suffering that Jesus would later endure.

For Christians, the cross represents the most incredible gift we have ever received. It is a gift that we cannot truly understand, that we would never have asked for. We also know that there is nothing we can do to deserve it.


What does the Cross mean to you?

Have you ever heard someone speak of a test or burden as a “cross” that they have to carry ? It can be a physical illness, a misfortune, or a hardship in your life. It’s true, we can suffer painfully and we need God’s help to get through the day. Using this phrase in these situations alludes to the cross of Christ, but it is not what Jesus meant when he spoke of taking up our cross.

Ways to take up your cross

So what has to happen to take up our cross and follow Jesus? Pay attention below:

1. Obedience to God

“He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on the cross!” Philippians 2: 8 NIV. When Jesus took up his cross, he did so with great humility and obedience to his Father. He put God’s will and his love for us above himself, to the point of death.

Taking up our cross means putting aside our selfish desires and following God’s will for our lives. This does not crush our personality or our happiness. Incredibly, the opposite is true. We find fulfillment, contentment (even in trials), and “unspeakable joy” in our lives.

“Even though you haven’t seen it, you love it; and although you do not see it now, you believe in it and you are filled with an ineffable and glorious joy ”. 1 Peter 1: 8 NIV.

2. Watch your thoughts

The things we think about can determine what results in words and actions. Here is some excellent advice from Paul regarding our thoughts:

“All that is true, all that is honorable, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is beautiful, all that is praiseworthy, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think of these things.” Philippians 4: 8 ESV.

When unpleasant, dissatisfied, complaining, and critical thoughts enter our minds, we have a choice. We can let them rule us, or we can deny them more access and refuse to insist on them. Deny these thought processes; Refusing to give in to them is a way of “taking up your cross . 

This takes practice and self-control, but as long as we are consistent, it will be easier to recognize them for what they are, put them aside, and fill our minds with the positive things Paul mentioned.

3. Get the new you

Paul wrote to the Colossians from prison and gave them practical and workable ways to take up their cross and show the love of Christ. ( Colossians 3: 5-17 ). He gave them a list of sins to avoid and explained the damage they cause. He followed that up with a list of ways we can live for Jesus in our daily lives:

  • Show compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness.
  • Choose the peace of Jesus to rule your heart, not conflict, fear, jealousy, among others.
  • You must be grateful. Make gratitude a priority and a daily practice and watch your focus turn toward the many blessings we receive.
  • Let the word of Christ “dwell abundantly in you”, fill your life completely. Paul and the early Christians didn’t have New Testaments to read like we do, so they re-told the stories, sang them, prayed together, and shared their wisdom. We have many more opportunities to abide in his Word!

4. Let the race run

When we take up our cross, we keep our eyes on Jesus. We put aside love for our possessions, our pride, and our accomplishments. We give up anything that prevents us from working for His kingdom. His goal for us as followers is that we tell others about Him, whatever the cost.

This will look different for each of us. But for most of us, the cost will not come close to what the early believers endured. It may mean that we feel uncomfortable, or that we feel uncomfortable trying to defend our faith.

But be aware of the furious rejection that Jesus experienced in his life. Did this stop him from telling the truth? No, he stayed true to his Father’s mission. Whatever the cost here on earth for us, it pales in comparison to what awaits us.

” Let us shed every weight that holds us back, ” especially the sin that so easily causes us to stumble. And let us run with patience the race that God has set before us. Let’s do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12: 1-2 NLT.


Take up your cross every day

Jesus willingly went to the cross and took away our sin and shame. He forged a path for forgiveness to take its place. To take up your cross daily is to express the will to endure whatever comes when we conform to His lifestyle.

When you think of “taking up your cross,” remember that by doing so, you are also “taking” his mercy, love, forgiveness, grace, and humility. We raise these things very high in our hearts, while “I” things fall very low on the list.


We cannot do it on our own, nor does He expect us to. He gives us his power to be his followers and his witnesses to “the ends of the earth.” It starts in our own little circle and widens from there. Spread His message of love to those around you. You will be amazed at what you will do with your obedience and submission to his will.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere: in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1: 8 NLT .

Final thoughts

Jesus tells you “Take up your cross and follow me.” It is up to you to do it or not. Many people are afraid of this, but they must bear in mind that they will not go alone, Christ will go by their side. Taking this action implies a lot of commitment and obedience to God, but it also brings infinite blessings.

We hope you enjoyed our Bible study and that it is edifying for you.