Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. (Mark 8:34-35 NIV)
Luke’s version of this verse is the very section that God used to open both myself and my wife’s eyes to the truth of the gospel. I had been in a liberal church for a few years before my conversion. The Pastor did not speak on subjects of sin, repentance, wrath, justice, or lordship. He later told me that he refused because he did not want to burden people with such weight. What he did not realize is that it is from learning and experiencing the weight of these doctrines that one can even begin to become a true disciple of Jesus. An individual does not know he needs the cure if he is not convinced he is sick. I was sick (with the disease of sin) and needed the remedy that only Jesus can offer.
Jesus issues this amazing statement so as to leave no confusion as to what it means to be a Christian. Jesus says that in order to become a disciple of his, one must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. Anything less than this will amount to a false hope and a false conversion.