Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Matthew 16:24 NKJV
The Romans, Mark's original audience, knew what taking up the cross meant. Death on the cross was a form of execution used by Rome for dangerous criminals. A prisoner carried their cross to the place of their execution, signifying submission to Rome's power.
However, Jesus used carrying a cross to illustrate the ultimate submission required to his followers. He is not against pleasure, nor is he saying that we should seek pain needlessly. He is talking about the heroic effort needed to follow him moment by moment, to do his will even when the work is difficult, and the future looks bleak.
We're called to follow Jesus by imitating and obeying his commands. To take up the cross means to deny our selfish desires to use our resources and time. Following Christ will cost you now, but in the long run, it is well worth the effort.
BOLDLY carry your cross.
Be a Biblical Obedient Living Disciple.