Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
I was always taught that carrying your own cross was accepting with grace the circumstances of your life and enduring. This was a solitary, lonely quest; kind of like pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. This is not consistent with the rest of Scripture.
Jesus was speaking to Hebrews. It is like ly that the word “cross” here is better translated “Stauros” or post. This would have made sense to the Hebrew mind pre Jesus’ dying on a Roman cross. It would have reminded the Hebrews of the same use of the word in Deuteronomy 40:18 translated as pillars. These pillars were the corner and side posts that held the curtains that made up the tabernacle. Different priests were given the assignment of carrying these pillars upon their shoulders from place to place as the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. When the cloud of God’s presence left the tabernacle, those assigned to carry the posts would heave them up onto their backs and shoulders and drag them until God showed them where to set them down. Each person would carry one post whose weight combined with the stand that was also carried equaled the amount of the price of redemption.
The post carriers were not lone wolves bearing their burdens with grief. No! They were priests. They joyfully did their share along with others who carried their posts and curtains and tabernacle furniture. Yes, sometimes it would rub a sore upon their backs. I am sure they got a few splinters and sometimes the burden seemed too heavy to bear, but they did it joyously as unto the Lord as their reasonable service of worship!
So, if we are to carry our cross (or post), we are not to carry it alone, but along with others. We are to carry it knowing that the obedience of carrying it will direct us back into the presence of God. We carry our post with joy at having been chosen to be a priest of the Most High God. We carry our cross (post) with thanksgiving for what God has done in our midst and what He has promised to do.
Then, we can be Jesus’ disciple (student).
Your cross is not some burden that God is laying upon you for torture or to grow you, but rather it is the thing that should lead you to God and His presence and His joy.