Traditional views can hinder a fair consideration of what the Scriptures really say. For example we have no trouble in visualising what Jesus meant by taking up one’s cross. Now, what was a cross for? In my mind I can’t think of any other use for a cross than that of crucifixion and the horrible death that it entails.
But if we look at what Jesus really told the disciples to take up, we see that it was a STAUROS which was not a cross but strictly speaking – AN UPRIGHT POLE, usually sharpened so that it could be stuck in the ground. This is the Greek word which is translated as CROSS in the New Testament.
A pole could have many uses.
The Roman army was reorganised by General and Consul Gaius Marius about 107 BC. He standardised their equipment and gave each soldier a forked pole called a FURCA (Latin for FORK). This was carried over the shoulder and on the forked part was hung some of his essential kit. There are pictures of this pole on the web, some show a crossbar instead of a fork. As a kid I found it less than easy to find suitable forked sticks to make a catapult ( you may know it as a slingshot) so I guess putting a little crossbar on a pole was easier than finding suitable sticks with the right fork for a few thousand soldiers.
So when Jesus told would be followers to take up their POLE, was he pointing to their crucifixion or was he telling them to take only their essentials and follow him?