Roman executions were not common here, but they weren't unheard of. Every so often you would see by the side of the road one or a series of crosses with people tied, or occasionally nailed, to them. After all, our Roman conquerorsI mean benefactorswere firm believers in public punishment as a deterrent to crime. So it was nothing really exceptional that we passed a series of crosses on the road that day.
The Teacher seemed to see them with a strange, far-away look in his eyes. He sometimes got that look, and we knew that it usually meant he would teach us something special, or do something unusual. So it was this time.
We had gone a little way beyond the crosses when he found a rock and sat on it. This was his usual way of letting us know that he wanted to speak to us. So we gathered round him to hear what he had to say.
"You have been learning from me up until now," he said. "It is about time you used some of that knowledge to teach others. But don't go to the Samaritans, nor to the nations round about. Go only to the lost sheep of Israel. Tell them the kingdom of heaven is near."
You know Simon, the other Simon, perked up his ears at that. Anytime the Teacher spoke about the kingdom, he was all ears.
Then the Teacher touched each of us. "You have seen me heal. Now you are to go teach the message of the kingdom, and you will also heal the sick and the lepers, cast out demons, even raise the dead. But don't take anything with you as you go. Take no money, no luggage, not even a staff. You are going to earn your way by your healing and teaching.
"I warn you though, that not everybody will listen. There will be towns where you are not welcome. That is OK. Just shake the dust of that town off your feet and go on to the next one. They will even take you before the elders and have you beaten. Don't worry about what you will say in your defense. You will know what to say. You have seen the way they have treated me. Don't expect any better for yourself. It is enough that you are willing to be treated the same as your teacher. Remember, anyone who confesses me before men, even he will I confess before my father in heaven."
Then he said something sure to get the Zealot's attention. He said he was here to bring a sword. His description sounded a lot like civil war. He was talking a lot like Simon, even saying that it was more important to follow him than family.
Finally he looked back up the road. That look came in his eyes again as he held up his hand to indicate the crosses we had just passed. With a voice that sent chills down our spines he said, "he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."
Now we all knew Simon was ready to die for "the cause," but the rest of us wondered if it would come to that. I know I wasn't too eager to join those criminals by the side of the road.
How many years ago that was! I didn't realize then that the Teacher was also the Son of God. I didn't realize then that I would be ready to do what I am about to do. He died upon a cross. Now I am about to do so, too. I wasn't sure I could do it then. I am now.
(Taken from Matthew 10)