“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24, NKJV). However, Jesus could not carry his cross all alone, and neither can you!
It may sound almost sacrilegious to suggest Jesus did not carry his own cross, but that is the truth. As Jesus bore his cross to Golgotha, he was too weak and frail to carry it the whole way. When he had reached the end of his endurance, his cross was laid on another’s shoulder. Simon the Cyrene was compelled to pick it up and carry it to the place of crucifixion (see Matthew 27:32).
What does this mean to us? Would our Lord order us do something he could not do? Did he not say, “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27)? Personally, it gives me great hope to know that Jesus could not bear his own cross entirely alone. It encourages me to know that I am not the only one burdened down at times, unable to go on in my own strength. Jesus knew exactly what he was saying when he called us to “take up our cross and follow him.” He foreknew his own cross and that another would have to carry it for him.
Why then would he ask us to shoulder a cross that he knows will soon crush us to the ground? There is a truth hidden here that we must uncover, a truth so powerful that it could change the way we look at all our troubles and hurts.
God knows that not one of his children can carry the cross they take up when following Christ. We want to be good disciples by denying ourselves and taking up our cross, but we seem to forget that this same cross will one day bring us to the end of our human endurance. Would Jesus purposely ask us to take up a cross that he knows will sap all our human energies and leave us lying helpless? Absolutely yes! Jesus forewarns us, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). So he asks us to take up our cross until we learn that lesson. This is what the Bible means when it says his strength is made perfect in our weakness.