The Cross Presented
“If any person will come after me,
let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
The scene changed, and I seemed to be an eyewitness of the Majesty of Him who had appeared before in weakness bowing beneath His cross. His Face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was as white as the light.
Before Him stood a young man, pleasant and in the dress of a pilgrim, his face was set toward the celestial city.
The Lord held in His hand a cross resembling his own, but far smaller and lighter. He presented the cross to the young man and said,
“Take your cross and follow me!”
A deep sadness passed over the countenance of the young man. The Lord stood holding out the cross to him.
Lord: “My dear disciple, I have cheerfully suffered for you. I endured the cross, despising the shame, for you. Can you not accept this cross now and bear it for me?”
Disciple: “Why, Lord? Did you not promise rest to all who come to you. I thought that from now on my life was to be full of happiness. I looked for joy and peace in believing. Now I only find a cross. Difficulties have begun to embarrass me that I never knew when living in the world. Trial succeeds trial, like waves of the ocean.”
Lord: “My child, your happiness is found in tribulation and conflict here. It is in imitating and obeying me that you are to become holy in bearing your cross, to find joy, to be exalted in being abased, to conquer by yielding, to find your life in losing it.
You must deny yourself. Passion will plead for indulgence but it must be refused. The world will beckon you to ease and seek to dazzle you with its glitter and pomp; but you must resist. I have shown you in my own example what I would have you be. Again I repeat, take your cross and follow me.”
Disciple: “Lord, I could bear anything but this trial you have allotted me.”
Lord: “You are called to bear your own cross and not another’s.”
Disciple: “Is there only these severe terms? I desire to follow you but how can I make such a sacrifice of my position in society, my comfort and my interest?”
Lord: “You may be my disciple but only on the condition of bearing your cross after Me.”
Disciple: And must I give up my cherished dreams? From childhood my heart has indulged in the most delightful anticipations of future enjoyment of life. I should be able to relieve my anxieties and gratify my tastes and have everything around me comfortable so that the ideal of life would be realized.”
Lord: “Dear child, the whole scheme is wrong. Ease and comfort, pleasure and honor are not the end of life, nor the essential to your true well-being. By the cross comes the crown. When John and James asked me for honors, I promised them a share in My bitter cup and My fiery baptism. I told your brethren before you that in this world they should have tribulation, but in Me they should find their consolation. I have called the weary and the burdened away from the promises of the world, to find pleasure in suffering with Me and for Me, ease in toil, joy in sorrow, songs in the prison. This is the mystery of the cross that offends the world, but should not offend such as you.