And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Now let us look at the context.
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.”
Notice these words.
“Ashamed of me”. “My words”. “Adulterous generation”.
Jesus spoke this in or about AD30. One generation is 40 years. So he was referring something about AD70.
Now what does this actually mean?
The apostle Paul said the same thing when he told people he was crucified with Christ.
Except when you read the verse in context you see the whole thing.
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.
So you see “being crucified with Jesus” or “taking up the cross” simply meant to the Jews, “dying to the Law”.
This is of great significance to the Jews. This is because the Jews who remained with the Law remained in temple worship. So those who remained perished under the leadership of John Levi when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.
Those who believed Jesus knew they were going to be the new temple. So they fled Jerusalem before it was destroyed by Vespasian through his son Titus in AD70.
So when you read these verses,
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?
It does not point to discipleship. The losing of life here is physical. It’s about AD70.
I hope this helps you sleep better tonight.