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What cross is Matthew (quoting Jesus) talking about here?

Matthew 10:38

And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

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As the question recognises, mention by Jesus of a cross at this point in his mission would have made no sense to his listeners. They could only be puzzled by a reference to the cross of crucifixion, if indeed they realised that this was what Jesus meant by 'cross', being entirely unaware that Jesus would later die on a cross.

This is a symbolic reference to the crucifixion and suffering of Jesus, telling the disciples that they too must suffer if they are to be worthy of him. This may not really have been intended to promote martyrdom, but it was aimed at the gospel readers, who would have understood the reference to the cross.

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