Matthew 16:24: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Matthew Henry*s Concise Commentary: Christ reveals his mind to his people gradually. From that time, when the apostles had made the full confession of Christ, that he was the Son of God, he began to show them of his sufferings. He spake this to set right the mistakes of his disciples about the outward pomp and power of his kingdom. Those that follow Christ, must not expect great or high things in this world. Peter would have Christ to dread suffering as much as he did; but we mistake, if we measure Christ*s love and patience by our own. We do not read of any thing said or done by any of his disciples, at any time, that Christ resented so much as this. Whoever takes us from that which is good, and would make us fear to do too much for God, speaks Satan*s language. Whatever appears to be a temptation to sin, must be resisted with abhorrence, and not be parleyed with. Those that decline suffering for Christ, savour more of the things of man than of the things of God.
People*s New Testament Commentary: If any man will come after me. Let him deny himself. Let him be prepared to say *no* to many of the strongest cravings of his nature, in the direction more particularly of earthly ease, comfort, dignity, and glory.
Take up his cross. Luke adds, daily [Luke 9:23]; not once, but all the time. The cross is the pain of the self-denial required in the preceding words. The cross is the symbol of doing our duty, even at the cost of the most painful death.
And follow me. To follow Christ is to take him for our master, our teacher, our example; to believe his doctrines, to uphold his cause, to obey his precepts, and to do it though it leads to heaven by the way of the cross.
Robertson*s New Testament Word Picture: Take up his cross. Pick up at once. Pertinent here also in explanation of Christ*s rebuke to Peter. Christ*s own cross faces him. Peter had dared to pull Christ away from his destiny. He would do better to face squarely his own cross and to bear it after Jesus. The disciples would be familiar with cross-bearing as a figure of speech by reason of the crucifixion of criminals in Jerusalem.
Spurgeon*s Commentary On Matthew: As our Lord, to fulfill his destiny, must sacrifice himself, so also must everyone who would be his follower. To keep close to our Lord (which he intends by the words come after me,) we must have done with self; for he denied himself to redeem his people. We must not know self, nor assent to it; but we must each one deny himself. Doing this, each man must cheerfully shoulder his own personal burden of sorrow and service, and carry it with self-sacrifice, as Jesus carried his cross. He had told them of his cross; now he tells them of their own crosses. They might now choose again whether they could and would follow him. With their increased information as to his destiny, the question was again set before them, whether they would follow or forsake him. If they did continue to be his followers, it must be as cross-bearers and self-deniers. Nor are the terms altered in these days. Do we accept them? Can we keep step in the long procession of cross carriers, or will we fall in with the spirit of the age, and say fine things about Jesus, while we deny his substitutionary sacrifice, and shirk the personal self - denial which he demands? Our own wisdom, if it leads us to think lightly of *the precious Blood*, must be utterly denied and even abhorred.
William Burkitt*s Notes on the New Testament: Our Saviour recommends his religion to every man*s choice; not attempting by force and violence to compel any to the profession of it. If any man will come after me, that is, if any man choose and resolve to be a Christian. We should be willing to part with all our earthly comforts, and quit all our temporal enjoyments, for the sake of Christ and his holy religion. Gospel-suffering, He must take up his cross is an allusion to a Roman custom, that the malefactor, who was to be crucified, took his cross upon his shoulder, and carried it to the place of execution. Not the making of the cross for ourselves, but the patient bearing of it when God lays it upon our shoulder, is the duty injoined. Gospel-service, He must follow me: that is, obey my commands, and follow my example: he must set my life and doctrine continually before him, and must be daily correcting and reforming his life by that rule and pattern.