And when he had called the people to him with his disciples also, he said to them, Whoever will come after me, let him deny himself…
Carrying a cross after Christ means, for one thing, enduring suffering for Christ. "Cross" was the name once given to the most fearful engine of agony for the body; and the words "cross," "crucial," "excruciate," etc., have come into our language from that material cross, and they now point, in a general way, to what has to be suffered, not in the body, but in the soul. To carry a cross for Christ means, for another thing, having a great weight on the mind for Christ's sake. To carry a cross for Christ means, for another thing, that this suffering and heavily-weighted condition should be open, not secret; for the cross bearer is seen. It means, for another thing, that the man who is willing to carry the cross for Christ is willing to suffer scorn for Christ. No one carried a cross in the old Roman days but one who was the very refuse of society. To be willing to carry a cross for Christ means willingness to suffer ignominy, willingness to "go forth without the camp, bearing His reproach." To carry a cross for Christ has another meaning. It means that for Christ's sake the person who does so takes up a trial that comes to him in the course of God's providence, and not through his own choice, or fault, or folly. A man does, from a sublime motive, some evil thing that good may come. Then he suffers the penalty. When he does so, that is not suffering a cross. When a man is a violator of the Petrine law; when he is a busybody and a meddler in other men's matters, and suffers the proper penalty; when a man does a right thing at a wrong time, or in a wrong place, or in a wrong way, and suffers the penalty; when a man tries to help out the cleansing efficacy of Christ's blood by some nostrum of his own, as if the great Lord of the universe had mistaken the proportions in which health and sickness, light and darkness, fire and frost, ease and pain, should be distributed, and suffers a complicated penalty thereby and therefrom, that penalty is not a cross in any one instance. Penalty is penalty, and nothing else. Whatever the cause may be in which you are acting or suffering, penalty is penalty, not a cross taken up for Christ. But when, for the sake of principle, for the sake of profession, for the sake and in the course of carrying out the laws of a Christian calling, any man has to suffer something sharp, or to bear something gaffing, for Christ's sake, that is a cross.
(Charles Stanford, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.