Philippians 2:8 says, "And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." It was at the Garden of Gethsheme he prayed saying in Luke 22:42 that it is the will of the Father be done and not His. Jesus gave perfect obedience to His Father in everything even to die by crucifixion. Crucifixion was the punishment reserved for the most evil of criminals in that day. An innocent man was about to get the punishment that was so undeserved yet it was the Father's plan. It was Jesus' sacrificial love that made Him take the wrath of God so sins may be forgiven. You cannot have the sacrifice of Jesus viewed in only one way where it was just sacrificial love or the Father's wrath upon Jesus - it was both. Isaiah 53 details the very suffering of Jesus for the sins of mankind. All four accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John verify the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Jesus.
The Lord Jesus gave the example of what it means to be a Christian. To take one's cross means to really deny one's self. True Christianity is not just merely getting saved but it also means getting sanctified as the days go by. When Jesus said that whosoever does not take His cross and follows after him is not worthy - it is because such people are stuck in their own self-righteousness, a love for sin or both. Many people refuse salvation because even if it is not by works, it can cost them everything because most people believe in salvation by works. Go ahead and tell people that salvation is not by any other way but Jesus and prepare to lose everything. Adhering to the idea of salvation by grace through faith merits ridicule, rejection and persecution day in and day out from people lost in their sins. Worse, many people who are so sinful do not even think of themselves as wicked people. To be a Christian means taking up one's cross as a result of true conversion.
The cross stands for surrender and dedication to God as a Christian. Galatians 6:12-14 says, "As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." When it comes to the cross, there is really no boasting and when it comes to true salvation then it always results to sanctification. To attain salvation for sinners, 2 Corinthians 5:21 states that the Lord Jesus who knew no sin because the sin sacrifice for mankind's salvation. Since Jesus was willing to do everything for Christians to be freed then any true convert has that attitude of gratitude shown for the Savior.
It is absurd to think that any Christian would think that the Christian life can become easy as pie. It is really one of the greatest insults ever to think Christianity means living an easy life. The more I read the words of Jesus, the more I expect persecution, rejection and even martyrdom. Seeing Christians getting wrongfully persecuted for the sake of the Gospel is anything but surprising. Jesus did everything to accomplish salvation. It is only normal for true converts to really say, "Lord you saved me, how may I serve you now?" as part of their ever-growing new nature in Christ.