People teach the phrase “carry the cross” as if the Christian life is full of suffering. The truth is that it is a whole misinterpretation of scripture. It is done without the taking into the account of how phrases are understood in the Jewish culture.
The best commentator in terms of carrying the cross would be Paul. After all he did say he had been crucified with Christ. He too said he fought the good fight and he completed his race.
So the term “crucified with Christ” is really synonymous with “carrying the cross”.
Let us however look into the context of that verse.
For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
It is imperative for us to realize Paul sets us verse 20 by telling us how he carried the cross in verse 19.
For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.
Being crucified with Jesus simply means being dead to the Law.
That’s why carrying the cross means. This is because when Jesus said this. He hadn’t died yet. So the cross was not a glorious object. It represented the curse of the Law.
The Jewish Old Testament actually says a person is cursed if he hangs on a tree. As such at that time carrying a cross means no confidence in the Law.
He then said this.
For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Referring to his generation and his generation. He was speaking about a transition of covenants which was occurring his generation.
Jesus came to usher a new covenant based on love, mercy and grace. However the Jews of his generation kept insisting on observing the Mosaic law.
Hence when Jesus was saying, if you are ashamed of him, he was actually referring to the covenant which he was about to issue in and not the covenant they chose to remain in.
So Jesus tells them.
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
To many people these verse seems to speak about a need to be saved. However as I have pointed out to you he was speaking to his generation.
The losing of his soul here is not referring to hell but the destruction and judgment that would come in AD70 when God brought the Old Covenant to an end.
Hence taking up the cross was a call to bring the Jews’ confidence in the Mosaic covenant to an end.
The process started when Jesus died on the cross. He ushered in the new covenant in his resurrection. The Mosaic covenant ended in AD70. The Law ended there. So what Paul and Jesus were saying was that the Jews had to sever themselves from the Old Covenant.
Jesus suffered for you. That is enough. In fact it’s more than enough.