Denying Oneself — Taking Up One’s Cross.
Our Lord’s uncompromising demand that His followers must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him, requires just a little “unpacking”.
This understanding is absolutely crucial in presenting the teaching of Jesus. Again we quote Professor William Lane from his commentary (Erdmans 1994) as he sums up the core of this teaching. We reproduce Dr. Lane’s text in bullet points to help our meditation on this most important text.
● Jesus stipulated that those who wish to follow him must
● The central thought in self-denial is a disowning of any claim
● This involves a radical denunciation of all self-idolatry and
● This demand is reinforced and intensified by the horrifying
● The saying evokes the picture of a condemned man going out
● Jesus’ words were a sober caution that the commitment for
● The call to follow Jesus which recapitulates the action in which
Because it is so important to understand this difficult concept, we add the note from Bratcher and Nida Translator’s Handbook (U.B.S):
“Deny himself” is without doubt one of the most difficult expressions in all of Mark to translate adequately. Unfortunately, too many people have taken this expression to mean ‘to deny oneself certain pleasures or objects,’ while actually the meaning is denial of one’s presumed prerogatives or personal interests. The different ways of expressing this concept in various languages, is highly illuminating.”
Bratcher and Nida then list several examples of what the phrase can mean, in trying to retain the original message in Jesus’ words.
• Have no regard to oneself.
We trust these quotations will help clarify our Lord’s teaching.