I’ve had a particular verse running through my head: “… ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24 and Luke 9:23).

It’s no surprise, perhaps, that I would be thinking of this verse during the week that we remember Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. But Jesus wasn’t telling his followers they have to carry some sort of burden to be a Christian. The cross would have been a symbol of death to Jesus’ followers.

Jesus was calling his followers to die to themselves and surrender to him — it’s the opposite of a new weight. Jesus’ sacrifice was a lifting of our burden. In his death and resurrection, if we choose to follow him, our burdens are lifted because of the promise God made to us. It’s the same promise that was manifest in the first Passover and in the promise to Abraham.

St. Francis of Assisi has also been on my mind. Known for a wild life in his youth, St. Francis turned to a life of poverty and one devoted to God. He knew what Jesus meant.

Does that mean we have to take a vow of poverty or be “good enough” for God to love and accept us? No.

That’s the point. Jesus took all our problems, our worries, our darker natures, our sins. All those things died on the cross with him, but they didn’t return in his resurrection.

That’s what Easter is about and that’s what Jesus meant.

Happy birthday Sunday to Samuel Taylor Sr. and Teresa Colbert, both of Sherman; Greg Green of Round Rock; Linda Brown of Plano; Sylvia Tinoco of Kirkland, Washington; and Diane Sales of Overland Park, Kansas.

Happy anniversary Sunday to Darryll and Janet Myles of Sherman, 14 years; and Jim and Debbie Jester of Rowlett.

Happy birthday Monday to Anthony Woodson of Denison; Reagan Dockery and Jaimie Rockery, both of Trenton.