My dear Covenant Partners and GEM Family
Jesus who was always God became man. He emptied Himself of His glory and became one of us, becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross. Thus, He freed us from sin while He bore the brunt of sinful behavior! Only hardened criminals were subjected to death on a cross. Even though He was God, Jesus was willing to humble himself out of love for us to the point of dying on the cross. Understandably, there were varied reactions to His shameful death on the cross. Apart from John, none of the other disciples were present. The leaders of the people kept jeering at Him, saying, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” (Luke 23: 35) The soldiers mocked Him, offering Him sour wine and taunting Him to save Himself if indeed He was the king of the Jews! One of the criminals blasphemed Him.
In Luke 9: 23, Jesus tells us that if we wish to come after Him, we will have to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Him. We want to live without suffering and pain while not eschewing sin. For those who take Jesus seriously, they understand that carrying their cross daily or bearing insults and rejection in their service of God, leads to true freedom and joy. They understand that the only way to experience the peace and joy of the Risen Lord is through the royal road of the Cross. The death and resurrection of Jesus are one seamless reality. When one accepts the cross in daily life with love and compassion, one experiences the peace and joy of the Risen Lord!
The spirituality of carrying the cross becomes meaningful to us only because it is Jesus who tells us to carry our cross daily. And He does so because He carried the cross to His death on our behalf. In identifying ourselves with the Crucified Christ, we become like Him. We carry our cross for ourselves when we are making reparation for our sins. Life brings its crosses as well, as it is beyond our control, sometimes. Many crosses arise because we are in significant relationships with others. In those situations, we are being asked by Jesus to love beyond anger and resentment. With Paul, we understand that in loving our neighbor, we are making up for the sufferings of Jesus in His body: “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (Colossians 1: 24). Jesus reminds us that He is with us always!
In carrying His cross on our behalf, Jesus brought redemption even to His persecutors. The centurion came to believe that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. One of the criminals repented and came to live with Jesus in Paradise. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus made public their hidden discipleship. They defied the ban of according burial rites to a criminal. They gave Jesus a tomb and burial rites because they had come to believe that Jesus indeed was the Son of God. The doctrine of the cross has a power that gets unleashed when we become one with the crucified Jesus. God bless you! You are in our daily prayers!