"Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:27) Strong language for a Savior, a Redeemer, One who was to deliver us from evil!
The Cross was a scandal then and it is today. We must, however, understand that it is not so much a scandal as a mystery—a mystery that we shall never fathom in this life. We do not understand unselfish love—love that wants nothing more than to be like the Beloved—love that seeks for union of mind, heart and will—love that says, "Do not fear. I, too, have had pain, persecution, suffering, poverty and hunger. Look, I show you how to endure. I show you how to pray, how to forgive, how to love, how to be at peace, how to unite your will to the Father's no matter how difficult."
He emptied Himself that we might be filled—filled, not for our sakes alone, but for the sake of our neighbor. He showed us how to accept indifference—during His Infancy. He showed us how to accept loneliness—during His Hidden Life. He showed us how to accept success—by His attitude to the crowds proclaiming Him King. He showed us how to accomplish God's Will in the Agony in the Garden. He showed us how to accept pain, insults and death—on the Cross.
This was a sign of His love for His Father and for us and this too is our witness to the world. "Rejoice when men persecute you," He said. Over and over He told us not to be afraid for He had conquered the world. He conquered—not by changing it, but by changing the men who lived in it.
He gave up everything for us. He wants His disciples to do the same. Privation was part of His witness—it must be part of ours. And He instructed His followers to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but He added, "Do not take a spare tunic." (Mark 6:8,9)
Our witness is not to be healthy, wealthy and wise, but to accept whatever Providence sends our way with joy of heart and peace of mind—sickness or health, poverty or riches, success or failure. Our witness is to be truly free—free in mind, with no resentments to disturb us; free in heart with no attachments to hamper us; free in body, living in self-control; and free in spirit, ever seeking union with God and His Honor and Glory.