Jesus said, “Deny yourself, carry your cross, and follow me.” He said this before He was crucified. During that time, the cross was used as a means of execution just like the gas chamber, electric chair, or the most recent lethal injection. So, it is safe to say that our cross is our burden. It symbolizes our problems in this world that we should carry while following Him. Persecutions are part of it.
On the other hand, the cross is also said to be the ultimate sign of God’s love since Jesus died on it, redeeming us from our sins, giving us our salvation.
Is there a conflict?
At first glance, there is. We may ask, how can the cross symbolize both our burdens and the love God gave us? Well, it does.
It simply says that we should not worry in carrying our cross. It would always be present in this physical world, but we should not despair because Jesus have done this before us. He carried His own cross, and was even crucified on it. He brought us salvation through it. He tells us this, to carry our cross, because we said we want to follow Him, and following Him means being like Him. Likewise, being like Him means we would experience the same things He experienced. He carried His cross, so we should too.
On the contrary, there is a major difference between Jesus and us, humans–Sin. He never sinned, though He was tempted, once angry, stressed, grieving, and all other human emotions. He experienced these, as well as carrying a physically heavy cross, so that He knew how He can comfort us in times we are feeling these emotions.
By dying on the cross, He transformed its image from a symbol of death to a symbol of love and of life. Knowing this, we should be able to see the cross then not as our burden, but as a pre-requisite in following Him, just as He told us.
A little reminder for each and everyone of us carrying our crosses is that we do not carry its full weight because Jesus is helping us carry them. However, it will not be light, but in we are asked to fix our eyes on the persona we are following. Just as the line in the song Forever goes, “…You said that all you feel for me is undying love, that You showed me through the cross..”