Mark 8:34 “And JESUS called [to Him] the throng with His disciples and said to them, If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself [forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interests] and take up his cross, and [joining Me as a disciple and siding with Me [continually, cleaving steadfastly to Me].”
When JESUS spoke these words HE HAD NOT BEEN CRUCIFIED. So why did JESUS say the words “take up his cross”, and what do they mean?
In the Strong’s Concordance the definition for cross is #4716 i.e. self-denial by imply – the atonement of Christ, fig. exposure to death; a stake or post or cross.
To the Jewish people the meaning of the cross was understood. Deuteronomy 21:22 and 23 speaks of the cross as a symbol of death and to commit a sin worthy of death a man would be hung on a tree. It also told them (and us) that the man who is hung on a tree is accursed by God. So they knew that this type of self-denial would be great. Death to the flesh, self, and following JESUS.
According to “The Cross in Tradition, History and Act” by William Wood Seymour, the cross was originally designed as occult symbols to be worshipped in Babylon and Egypt [many years before Jesus].
We must understand that the cross is a symbol of death, grief, sorrow and agony, and like other objects that we should not have in our home, we don’t need to have a cross either, even around our necks. If you have seen any pictures of rock music singers, they almost all have crosses around their necks, in their ears, or other parts of their body. Almost every religion uses a cross, including voodoo (they also use rosary beads). Buddha temples have crosses on the building. So if someone sees a cross in your home, hanging around your neck or your car mirror, what god will they think you are serving?
Our witness is our lifestyle and people will know by the Holy Spirit abiding within us that we are Christ’s. Remember that the Lord said that if we bring a cursed object into our home we take the curse on us also. Deuteronomy 7:26 “Neither shall you bring an abomination (an idol) into your house, lest you become an accursed thing like it; but you shall utterly detest and abhor it, for it is an accursed thing.”
This does not take away the fact that our Lord and Savior was crucified on a tree. These trees were used by the Romans to kill people long before JESUS died on one.
Do you wear a MANGER around your neck which signifies the birth of JESUS? You get the point.