The man is incredible:
Whoever wishes to come after me must take up his cross and follow me. –Mark 8:34
This is what the Son of God said. He went to heaven after He rose from the dead, so we certainly want to follow Him.
But wait: Are we fools to want to follow Christ? To come after Him, we must take up our crosses. This is what He clearly says. We have to be clear on what He means.
The cross was the implement the Romans used to kill their worst criminals. The cross may mean many things to us, but when the Lord first used the term 2,000 years ago, the cross meant one thing: execution, the death penalty.
Among Christians, to speak of one’s crosses has become a metaphor for all kinds of difficulties. It is a good metaphor.
But: We cannot use the phrase as a metaphor if we do not first consider the literal meaning. We cannot forget what the cross essentially is. The cross is an instrument of one thing—death.