Matthew 10:38
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
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(38) He that taketh not his cross.—The words were hardly a specific announcement of the manner of our Lord’s death, though they imply, interpreted by events, a distinct prevision of it, such as that which we trace in John 3:14. To the disciples they would recall the sad scene which Roman rule had made familiar to them, the procession of robbers or rebels, each carrying the cross on which he was to suffer to the place of execution. They would learn that they were called to a like endurance of ignominy and suffering. When they saw their Master Himself carrying His own cross, the words would come back to their minds with a new significance.

10:16-42 Our Lord warned his disciples to prepare for persecution. They were to avoid all things which gave advantage to their enemies, all meddling with worldly or political concerns, all appearance of evil or selfishness, and all underhand measures. Christ foretold troubles, not only that the troubles might not be a surprise, but that they might confirm their faith. He tells them what they should suffer, and from whom. Thus Christ has dealt fairly and faithfully with us, in telling us the worst we can meet with in his service; and he would have us deal so with ourselves, in sitting down and counting the cost. Persecutors are worse than beasts, in that they prey upon those of their own kind. The strongest bonds of love and duty, have often been broken through from enmity against Christ. Sufferings from friends and relations are very grievous; nothing cuts more. It appears plainly, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution; and we must expect to enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations. With these predictions of trouble, are counsels and comforts for a time of trial. The disciples of Christ are hated and persecuted as serpents, and their ruin is sought, and they need the serpent's wisdom. Be ye harmless as doves. Not only, do nobody any hurt, but bear nobody any ill-will. Prudent care there must be, but not an anxious, perplexing thought; let this care be cast upon God. The disciples of Christ must think more how to do well, than how to speak well. In case of great peril, the disciples of Christ may go out of the way of danger, though they must not go out of the way of duty. No sinful, unlawful means may be used to escape; for then it is not a door of God's opening. The fear of man brings a snare, a perplexing snare, that disturbs our peace; an entangling snare, by which we are drawn into sin; and, therefore, it must be striven and prayed against. Tribulation, distress, and persecution cannot take away God's love to them, or theirs to him. Fear Him, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. They must deliver their message publicly, for all are deeply concerned in the doctrine of the gospel. The whole counsel of God must be made known, Ac 20:27. Christ shows them why they should be of good cheer. Their sufferings witnessed against those who oppose his gospel. When God calls us to speak for him, we may depend on him to teach us what to say. A believing prospect of the end of our troubles, will be of great use to support us under them. They may be borne to the end, because the sufferers shall be borne up under them. The strength shall be according to the day. And it is great encouragement to those who are doing Christ's work, that it is a work which shall certainly be done. See how the care of Providence extends to all creatures, even to the sparrows. This should silence all the fears of God's people; Ye are of more value than many sparrows. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. This denotes the account God takes and keeps of his people. It is our duty, not only to believe in Christ, but to profess that faith, in suffering for him, when we are called to it, as well as in serving him. That denial of Christ only is here meant which is persisted in, and that confession only can have the blessed recompence here promised, which is the real and constant language of faith and love. Religion is worth every thing; all who believe the truth of it, will come up to the price, and make every thing else yield to it. Christ will lead us through sufferings, to glory with him. Those are best prepared for the life to come, that sit most loose to this present life. Though the kindness done to Christ's disciples be ever so small, yet if there be occasion for it, and ability to do no more, it shall be accepted. Christ does not say that they deserve a reward; for we cannot merit any thing from the hand of God; but they shall receive a reward from the free gift of God. Let us boldly confess Christ, and show love to him in all things.And he that taketh not his cross ... - When persons were condemned to be crucified, a part of the sentence was that they should carry the cross on which they were to die to the place of execution. Thus, Christ carried his, until he fainted from fatigue and exhaustion. See notes at Matthew 27:31. The cross was usually composed of two rough beams of wood, united in the form of this figure of a cross It was an instrument of death. See the notes at Matthew 27:31-32. To carry it was burdensome, was disgraceful, was trying to the feelings, was an addition to the punishment. So "to carry the cross" is a figurative expression, denoting that we must endure whatever is burdensome, or is trying, or is considered disgraceful, in following Christ. It consists simply in doing our duty, let the people of the world think of it or speak of it as they may. It does not consist in making trouble for ourselves, or doing things merely "to be opposed;" it is doing just what is required of us in the Scriptures, let it produce whatever shame, disgrace, or pain it may. This every follower of Jesus is required to do. 38. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me—a saying which our Lord once and again emphatically reiterates (Mt 16:24; Lu 9:23; 14:27). We have become so accustomed to this expression—"taking up one's cross"—in the sense of "being prepared for trials in general for Christ's sake," that we are apt to lose sight of its primary and proper sense here—"a preparedness to go forth even to crucifixion," as when our Lord had to bear His own cross on His way to Calvary—a saying the more remarkable as our Lord had not as yet given a hint that He would die this death, nor was crucifixion a Jewish mode of capital punishment. We have much the same in Matthew 16:24 Mark 8:34 Luke 9:23; It is not he that maketh not, but

he that taketh not his cross; that is, he that doth not willingly, and cheerfully, and patiently bear and undergo those trials, and afflictions, and persecutions, which God in the way of his providence shall lay upon him, and bring him into, for my sake and my gospel, is not worthy of the name or reward of my disciples. Our Saviour calls all such trials, the cross, either with reference to the Roman last punishment, by crucifying, or signifying what death he should die, and with reference to his own cross.

And he that taketh not his cross,.... By the "cross", which was a Roman punishment, whereby malefactors were put to death, are meant all sorts of afflictions, reproaches, persecutions, and death itself; and particularly the ill will, hatred, and persecution, of near relations and friends, which must be expected by such, who bear a faithful testimony for Christ. Every minister of Christ, or professor of his name, has "his" own cross, his own particular afflictions, appointed by God, and laid on him by Christ, and which he should cheerfully take up, and patiently bear, for his sake. The allusion is to the custom of persons sentenced to be crucified, to carry their own cross, as Christ did his, and Simon the Cyrenian for him; and which our Lord here may have a respect unto, as well knowing what death he was to die, and that some of his disciples also would die the same death: wherefore Christ says,

and followeth after me; led on by his example, to preach or profess the Gospel, submit to the ordinances of it, and cheerfully suffer for the sake of it, when called to it. If a man, who would be thought to be a disciple of Christ, is not willing to do all this, but, in order to avoid it, complies with his friends, conforms to the world, and turns his back on Christ; of such an one he may well say, he

is not worthy of me; it is not convenient that he should stand among his disciples and followers.

And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
Matthew 10:38. To take up his cross means, willingly to undergo the severe trials that fall to his lot (2 Corinthians 1:5; Php 3:10). Figurative expression, borrowed from the practice according to which condemned criminals were compelled to take up their own cross and carry it to the place of execution; Matthew 27:32; Luke 23:26; John 19:16; Artemid. ii. 56, p. 153; Plut. Mor. p. 554 A; Cic. de divin. i. 26; Valer. Max. xi. 7. The form of this expression, founded as it is upon the kind of death which Christ Himself was to die, is one of the indications of that later period from which the passage from Matthew 10:24 onward has been transferred to its present connection. Matthew himself betrays the prolepsis in Matthew 26:24 f.; comp. Mark 8:34; Luke 14:27.

ὀπίσω μου: in conformity with the Hebrew אחרי. Comp., however, ἀκολ. κατόπιν τινός, Arist. Plut. xiii.

Matthew 10:38. σταυρὸν. There is here no necessary allusion to the death of Jesus Himself by crucifixion, though one possessing such insight into the course of events, as this whole discourse indicates, must have known quite well when He uttered the words what awaited Himself, the worst possible probable if not certain. The reference is to the custom of the condemned person carrying his own cross. Death by crucifixion, though not practised among the Jews, would be familiar to them through Roman custom. Vide Grotius for Greek and Roman phrases, containing figurative allusions to the cross. This sentence and the next will occur again in this Gospel (Matthew 16:24-25).

38. he that taketh not his cross] A further advance in the devotion and self-abandonment required in the disciples of Jesus. These are deeply interesting and solemn words. The cross is named for the first time by the Saviour. The expression recurs ch. Matthew 16:24, following upon the announcement of the Passion to the disciples. By the Roman custom criminals were compelled to bear the cross to the place of execution. The Galilæans would know too well what was meant by “taking the cross.” Many hundreds had paid that forfeiture for rebellion that had not prospered under Judas the Gaulonite and others. (See Introduction, Chapter 4.)

Matthew 10:38. Τὸν σταυρὸν, his cross) The cross, which was unused by the Jews as a punishment, was not employed proverbially to denote extreme adversity: our Lord therefore, in this passage, alludes to His own Cross, which He was already bearing in secret.—λαμβάνει, taketh) sc. willingly.

Verse 38. - Besides the parallel passage, Luke 14:27 (vide supra), cf. also (for vers. 38, 39) Matthew 16:24, 25 (parallel passages: Mark 8:34, 35; Luke 9:23, 24). .and he that taketh not; doth not take (Revised Version), which calls attention to the change to the more definite mode of expression (ο{ς... λαμβάνει). Taketh. Receives in submission when given him; contrast ἀράτω, "take up from the ground" (Matthew 16:24), and βαστάζει, "bear" (Luke 14:27). His cross. A reference to the custom (vide Meyer) of criminals carrying their cross before they were crucified upon it. If, therefore, the figure may be pressed, the reference here is to the bearing of trials, even though they are such as point forward to greater trials in the future. Observe the torture and the ignominy of the trials that Christ expects his followers to be prepared for. And followeth after me. For Christ's journey ended in nothing less. Is not worthy of me. "And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded: for God proved them, and found them worthy of himself" (Wisd. 3:5). Compare the reply of St. Thomas Aquinas to our Lord in vision after he had completed his "Summa:" "Thoma, bene scripsisti de me; Quam reci-pies a Me pro rue labore mercedem? Domine, non nisi Te" (Archbishop Vaughan's 'Life of St. Thomas,' frontispiece). Matthew 10:38His cross (τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ)

This was no Jewish proverb, crucifixion not being a Jewish punishment; so that Jesus uses the phrase anticipatively, in view of the death which he himself was to die. This was one of those sayings described in John 12:16, which the disciples understood not at the first, but the meaning of which was revealed in the light of later events. The figure itself was borrowed from the practice which compelled criminals to bear their own cross to the place of execution. His cross: his own. All are not alike. There are different crosses for different disciples. The English proverb runs: "Every cross hath its inscription" - the name of him for whom it is shaped.

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