St. John's Olive Branch


Have you ever said, in reference to an illness, handicap, or horrible situation in which you find yourself, “That’s a cross that I must bear.”? Where do we get that saying from? It comes from the Bible, the words of Jesus. 

In Mark 8:34-36, Jesus says this to a crowd of disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?" 

When we say, “this is the cross I must bear” we are misinterpreting the words of Jesus.  Jesus wasn’t referring to some trial or tribulation that we must bear when He spoke of our cross.  He was referring to an ultimate sacrifice. When one carried their cross in Jesus’ day, it meant that they were literally heading to their death. Crucifixion was a barbaric, humiliating, slow and painful form of death. Jesus would soon carry His own crossbeam to the hill of Golgotha and there be sacrificed for our sins.  This is something we remember during the Easter season. He gave His life as a ransom for us. 

The Apostles, after the death and resurrection, knew what Jesus meant. They were literally to be willing to give up their lives for the Gospel. And they did! Peter was crucified head down in Rome, 66 A.D. Andrew was bound to death. He preached until his death in 74 A.D. James, son of Zebedee, was beheaded in Jerusalem (Acts 12:1-9). John was banished to the Isle of Patmos, 96 A.D. Phillip was crucified at Heirapole, Phryga, 52 A.D. 

Bartholomew was beaten, crucified, & beheaded, 52 A.D. Thomas was run through by a lance at Corehandal, East Indies, 52 A.D. Matthew was slain by the sword, Ethiopia, 60 A.D. James, son of Alphaeus, was thrown from a pinnacle, then beaten to death, 60 A.D. Thaddeus was shot to death by arrows, 72 A.D. Simon was crucified in Persia, 74 A.D. Matthias, Judas' replacement, was stoned and beheaded. 

How about you? Would you be willing to put aside your own desires and dreams, to serve our Savior, Jesus Christ, who died for you? It could lead to martyrdom. Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”