"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Matthew 16:24
When Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, they each left something behind in order to do so. Peter left his fishing nets, James and John left their father, Matthew left his position as tax collector. They followed Him for three years. They followed the miracles. They followed His teachings. They followed with the crowds. They followed Him into the cities, by the seashore and through the desert. But when they got to the cross- to the place of crucifixion- they didn't follow Him. Instead they turned and fled. "And they all forsook him, and fled." (Mark 14:50)
Jesus whole life on earth was headed in one direction- to the cross. He was on a journey from the manger to Calvary. When He invited the disciples to follow Him, He knew He was going to the the cross and as long as they followed Him they would wind up there too.
Many nowadays are like the disciples- they follow Jesus' miracles. They follow His blessings. They follow Him for what He can do for them and give them. But like those original disciples, they too stop following at the cross.
Most Christians, like the disciples, don't realize that Jesus is leading them "to the cross" and the place of crucifixion- although He told us that when we chose to follow Him. "Take up your cross." There is only one thing that you can do with a cross once it is taken up if you are truly following Jesus- die on it!
This death on the "cross" doesn't necessarily mean literally- as in the death of a martyr, although it might. But the cross is a place of crucifixion of self. It is the place where flesh dies. Every one who is following in the steps of Jesus is heading in the same direction He was headed. Every follower of Jesus is being led to the place of the cross in his or her own individual life. The goal He has planned for us is the cross- not so that we can be the Savior of the world as He was. But so that our flesh can die and His life can be manifested through us. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)
Have a great day. Many follow Jesus' miracles and blessings, but they stop following at the cross. How far and to where will you follow Him?
For further reading:
Matthew 4:19-21; 9:9; 10:38
2 Corinthians 4:10,11