“He called the crowd with his disciples and said to them, ‘If any wish to come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’” (Mark 8:34).
Mark specifies that Jesus is addressing not only the disciples but also the crowd. For readers today, it’s important to recognize that “the crowd” includes us! Jesus isn’t only speaking to a select group of especially religious people, far removed from us in time and place. The invitation to take up the cross and follow is a universal invitation for those who want to follow Jesus.
This call can feel overwhelming. The advantage we post-biblical disciples have is that Jesus has already walked the way of the cross before us. We follow, trusting Paul’s powerful assertion that “all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death,” and that “if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:3, 5).
This message is excerpted from the Bible study “We are called!” by Kathryn A. Kleinhans in the January/February 2020 Gather magazine. Today is the 14th Sunday after Pentecost.
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