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Mark 8:34

ESV And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
NIV 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.
NASB And He summoned the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, 'If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.
CSB Calling the crowd along with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
NLT Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.
KJV And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
NKJV When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

What does Mark 8:34 mean?

In Mark 8:33, Jesus faces an echo of His third temptation from Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:8–10): to take an easier path that looks like salvation but really leads to hell on a nicer road. Jesus teaches that we will face the same temptation. Some of Mark's audience, living with persecution from Rome, have to endure literal crosses for their faith, including Mark's possible source, Peter. All of us, however, need to reject the easier life of shallow, culture-pleasing faith, or selfish, carnal "easy-believism" for total surrender. If we're unwilling to deny ourselves, and to follow Christ in our actions as well as our response to our emotions, then we're not really "following" Him, at all.

"Deny" is from the Greek root word aparneomai and means to insist that you are not associated with someone. To deny yourself means to forget your own self-interest. It doesn't mean to abandon worldly comforts like a monk or to strictly control one's actions via spiritual disciplines, but to refuse rights and privileges that get in the way of God's kingdom. What, specifically, we will have to deny depends on our situation. It could be comfort, worldly responsibilities, or even the connection to our family or past (Luke 9:57–62).

To take up your cross doesn't mean to accept a specific burden from God. It's parallel in meaning to "deny [your]self." If we learn to sacrifice our selves to God, we won't fret about sacrificing our things. We will belong to God, not to our things, position, reputation, or comfort.

This is the first mention of a crowd, but the fact that Jesus calls the crowd to Him before He starts speaking is significant. It means that He addresses the call to deny yourself and take up your cross to all believers, not just Christian leaders. Some are called to a life of ministry. Some are called to sacrifice their lives for God's kingdom. But all of us are called to give up our worldly lives and dedicate ourselves to Christ.
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