24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
Christ says this before his crucifixion. This is not Christ’s call for others toward the resurrection. This is Christ’s calling for others to set aside their self-interest in favor of the interests of eternity.
He is essentially saying “take up your noose,” or “take up the firing squad,” or take up whatever other manner of execution might come about. The disciples knew that the cross was the Romans’ form of execution. Christ is telling them to pick it up.
In other words, be prepared to die to follow Christ. If you follow Christ, the world is going to come after you. The world will label the sinner a hypocrite, though Christ labels the sinner “forgiven.” Do not let death and fear of death control you. Do not let the desires of the world pull you toward being liked by the world at the expense of being liked by Christ.
Take up your cross, your noose, your bullet — your very fear of death and surrender yourself to Jesus. Everyone in the world dies. But only by taking up your own cross, and the burdens of following Jesus, does your body die and you dwell forever in the House of the Lord.