The subject of this passage as a whole deals with the two different views of the cross; the world vs. the believer. The conflict is in the acceptance of Christ’s cross, which is required for eternal life. Those who come under the blood willingly, now, are covered and their sins are remitted. Those who ignore or refuse the cross carry the guilt of their sin. But, even believers who have received the expurgation of the cross blanch at the idea of carrying the cross after redemption. We are afraid of the self-denial that comes with the cross. To carry your cross, you must lay down your pride, anger, rebellion, self-will, greed, and covetousness. That can be scary even to believers and foolishness to unbelievers. The world believes the highest wisdom is in providing self with the greatest happiness here on Earth. The world view is backward. Therefore, the cross is foolish, needless suffering. They look at it like religion and the church should meet my needs. Cross-carrying does not meet the needs of anyone's Earthly wants. Embracing the cross of Jesus is accepting that you are a sinner, and that Jesus died to set you free, and set you on the path to Heaven.
Thomas Akempis put it this way, “Why, then, do you fear to take up the cross when through it you can win a kingdom? In the cross is salvation, in the cross is life, in the cross is protection from enemies, in the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness, in the cross is strength of mind, in the cross is joy of spirit, in the cross is highest virtue, in the cross is perfect holiness. There is no salvation of soul nor hope of everlasting life but in the cross.”
1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down
his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (Notice how this verse mirrors John 3:16?)