We can’t carry our own cross. This statement may seem a little contradictory when we read Matthew 16:24:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.NKJV
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If you truly want to follow me, you should at once completely reject and disown your own life. And you must be willing to share my cross and experience it as your own, as you continually surrender to my ways.TPT
Yes, Jesus did say to his disciples “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”. But, Jesus himself could not carry His cross, and neither can you or I. Jesus fell under the load of his cross, weary, exhausted, and unable to carry it another step.
John 19:17 says, Jesus carried his own cross out of the city to the place called “The Skull,” which in Aramaic is Golgotha.
And the Bible doesn’t tell us how far Jesus carried his cross, but we do know according to Matthew 27:32 that Simon of Cyrene was compelled to pick it up and carry it to the place of crucifixion.
Matthew 27:32, Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross.
Jesus did take up his cross and was led by his tormentors like a lamb to be slain, but he could not carry it for long. The truth is Jesus was too weak and frail to carry his cross, so it was placed on another’s shoulders. Jesus was physically broken and wounded! There is only so much one person can take before there is a breaking point.
Jesus’ cross had become too heavy to bear! What does this mean for us? Why would Jesus make us do something he could not do? After all, in Luke 14:17 he says the same thing as in Matthew, Anyone who comes to me must be willing to share my cross and experience it as his own, or he cannot be considered to be my disciple.
A cross is a cross, be it wooden or spiritual, it is not enough to say His cross was different, our cross is spiritual. It should give us great hope to know that Jesus could not bear his own cross. It is encouraging to know that we are not the only ones burdened down to the ground at times unable to go on in our own strength.
Jesus knew exactly what he was saying when he called us to take up His cross as our own, and follow him. He remembers his cross, he remembers that someone else had to carry it for him. Why would Jesus ask us to carry a cross He knows will soon crush us to the ground? He knows we can’t carry them all the way in our own strength. He knows all about the agony, the helplessness, and the burden a cross creates.
Jesus, who took on the weight of all our sin and infirmities, experienced for himself what it was like to be weak, discouraged, and unable to go on without help.
God was not caught by surprise when Jesus could no longer carry the cross. God knew Jesus would take up his cross, head out towards Golgotha, then lay it down. God knows also that not one of his children can carry the cross he takes up when following Christ.
Jesus forewarned us in John 15:5, “… for without Me you can do nothing”. So, He asks us to take up our cross, our burdens, and struggle on with them, until we learn what the Bible means when it says His strength is made perfect in our weakness. We have one stronger than Simon who will come at our breaking point and take over the burden.
For although he was crucified as a “weakling,” now he lives robed with God’s power. And we also are “weak ones” in our co-crucifixion with him, but now we live in God’s triumphant power together with him, which is demonstrated on your behalf. 2 Cor 13:4
Burdens and troubles aren’t accidents and penalties from God, but they teach us submission to God’s way of doing things. Some may be hurting right now, but we’re in the process of healing. Those of us feeling crushed down under the burden of a heavy load – Get ready, because God is about to show himself strong on our behalf.
To Jesus, a Simon appeared, to us a savior appears. And sometimes God uses people. To some our Simon will appear. Thank God for our Simons! The people who God places on our paths, compelled by the Holy Spirit to come into our lives and reach out and help lift the burden.