I have the wonderful privilege of teaching on the theology of Mark’s Gospel this evening. I had to stop and write down these powerful words from Alan Culpepper to share with you (from his Smyth & Helwys commentary on Mark). This is Culpepper’s comments on the meaning of Mark’s Jesus enjoining his followers to “take up their crosses” (Mark 8:34).
The cross was the result of of Jesus’ opposition to the corruption of religion, the oppression of the poor, and the perversion of justice. It was precisely Jesus’ challenge to these evils and his identification with the outcast, the forgotten, and the oppressed that led the coalition of religious and political powers to put him to death. From this perspective, to take up the cross means to step forward, regardless of the sacrifice required, to join in the work of confrontation of the powers and identification with the excluded and persecuted. Taking up the cross means being at work where God is at work in the world to relieve suffering and injustice, to rescue the weak, and to bring peace and justice to bear in the human community. Each person has a unique opportunity to participate in God’s redemptive work in the world–Jesus said not just ‘the cross’ but ‘his cross’ or ‘her cross’ (p. 288)