This week hasn’t looked at all like I thought it would. I’m sure the Disciples could relate.
My daughter is on spring break from preschool, there are a million things that need done in preparation for Easter this weekend, and I’ve accomplished exactly zero of them after spraining my ankle a few days ago. I’d hoped this week would find me at the height of spring-cleaning productivity, like reorganizing the disaster of a stuffed linen closet upstairs or purging all the kid junk (aka, toys) that’s accumulated downstairs. Maybe the littles and I would’ve made trips to the library or the Children’s Museum.
Instead, I’ve been stuck on the couch and at the mercy of my family for just about everything. There’s a lack of control in discovering that routine tasks like standing to cook dinner, walking up stairs, or trying to catch a naughty toddler are suddenly more difficult (and certainly more painful). There’s a humility in being immobilized, but I’m starting to think that truth is more deeply received in a place of weakness than given from a point of strength. That perhaps, we can hear the still, small whisper of truth better than we ever could from a megaphone.
It’s Holy Week. Soon, Jesus will be arrested and found without fault, yet He will be scorned, battered, bloodied, bruised, and finally nailed to a cross anyway. Crucifying innocent people in the court of public opinion is a tale as old as this side of time.
You know how it goes.
The days leading up to the cross always serve as a chilling reminder of the power of communal fear and the danger of groupthink gone awry. But the words in Scripture also never fail to wretch the pride and apathy out of my soul anew as I ponder the truth: God intimately understands humanity’s selfish bent toward wandering and doubt, toward merciless self-preservation and biased judgement, and He choose us anyway. He picked up His cross and died for an undeserving, unforgiving, unbelieving, unrepentant people.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. Matthew 16:24-25
When we listen to that passage through the ears of self-focused faith, we can mistakenly think we take up our cross for ourselves. Maybe our “cross” is a burden we have to bear, a mission we need to accomplish, or a calling we need to fulfill?
But it’s not, at least not in the way you think.
The thing I keep circling back to is this: Jesus didn’t need the cross.
He’s perfect. He’s God. Jesus didn’t need the cross, yet He picked it up anyway.
He didn’t pick it up because He needed it--He picked it up because we did.
He did it FOR US.
Jesus laid down his life for people who could offer absolutely nothing in return. He did for us what we could never do for ourselves.
The cross isn’t the object of a personal, self-focused faith. As it turns out, it’s not about us at all. We don’t pick up our cross for ourselves but for others, especially those who have nothing to give back.
The cross is communal, and that changes everything.