People wear crosses today as jewelry. But, in the ancient Roman Empire, the cross was a dreaded instrument of torture and death. Jesus predicted his death and then taught that all who would come after him must take up their cross and follow him. In effect, Jesus was saying that we must give up our lives to become his disciples. But in giving up our lives we gain an eternal life within heaven with God, forgiven and forever free.
(Luke 9:22-27) 22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?
26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”