Today would have been a somber day for Jesus’ disciples. Yesterday Jesus was crucified, and they were too distraught to remember that Jesus said on the third day he’ll rise again. I suppose that this is where we’re lucky.
We know Jesus has risen from the dead. We know that we’ll be celebrating tomorrow. So today, instead of feeling gloomy and dark, I take this day to reflect. I reflect on what it means for Jesus to go to the cross for me; what it means for him to rise again.
Yesterday, at work, my boss and I had a devotional about good Friday. It is a blessing to work at a Christian establishment because we start every day with Jesus through devotion and prayer. It is truly wonderful. Anyway, the devotional talked about Simon from Cyrene. The one who carried Jesus’ cross for him to Golgotha:
And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to go with them, that he might bear his cross. And when they came unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, the place of a skull, they gave him wine to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted it, he would not drink. And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments among them, casting lots; and they sat and watched him there. - Matthew 27:32-36 ASV
The devotional symbolized this moment to us now. It referenced Matthew 10:38 when Jesus said, “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of my.” I was thinking about the idea of this all day yesterday as my boss and I worked, and I’m still thinking of it today.
This is truly humbling. Today I’m humbled. Jesus was hit, mocked, and whipped. Being whipped, you know chunks of skin and muscle were torn away. A crown of thorns was hammered into his head. The blood loss was so great and the torn muscles so weak he couldn’t even bear his cross to Golgotha, Simon had to.
Jesus endured nails in both his wrists and feet, being hoisted up onto the cross. Death by crucifixion is long, painful, and cruel. You die of blood loss, exhaustion, and suffocation. It stretches your ribcage tight making it near impossible to breathe. You’d have to use the nails in your wrist to hoist yourself up just enough to inhale a breath… Which pulls on the nails in your feet… Not to mention the whippings on your back being irritated as it’s rubbing against the wood of the cross every time you lift yourself.
It’s amazing to think that Jesus had enough strength to endure all that pain and speak! He used his breath, which was a struggle to get, to say “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
This death was supposed to be ours. It should have been us enduring the whipping and struggling to breathe. But he saved us. He loves us so much and endured what should have been ours to endure. So let me ask you,
Will you take up your cross and follow him?
Though crucifixion is no longer, there are still many “crosses” we can endure today. To identify with Jesus through service and sacrifice means we will face opposition, we will suffer, and sometimes for some, we may even have to face death. It takes true commitment to take up our cross and follow Jesus. We must submit to him.
He knows what you’re facing and dealing with. He sees the hate others have for you because you live and share The Word. He sees the enemy filling your head with depression, fear, anxiety, guilt, and doubts. He sees the toll it’s taking on you to lose a loved one, be financially unstable, endure broken friendships, to feel lonely. He sees the possibility of death you’re taking to live your life for him.
But because he sees, you can endure. Take up those crosses in your life. Take them up with enthusiasm. Because you are not taking them up alone. Jesus had Simon, and you have Jesus. Nothing you’re facing is unknown to him. He knows, he sees, he understands, and he endured more. He takes up your cross with you.
He endured what you should have to give you a better future. He arose to prepare a place for you. Nothing you’re going through right now compares to the wonderful things to come in eternity with him.
I don’t know what it is you’re facing right now. I don’t know what your struggle is either. But take this moment to think of what Jesus did for you. Remember what he did. Humble yourself, let him fill you with joy. Because the situation you are in, this struggle you are dealing with, won’t last forever. Jesus is right here with you, ready to help you carry that cross you should take up. Take it up and follow him, he understands.
He died and rose again for you, so live for him. Happy Easter.