Read Matthew 27:32-50
The cross of Jesus is rough, messy, and painful. This is the cross Jesus has called us to take up and follow Him with. It is a hard life, with struggles, persecution and sacrifice. It is more than a little prayer we say at vacation Bible school, and it is more than church on Sunday. It is a life of constantly displaying your faith in Jesus and what He’s done for us. It should not be taken lightly.
This life is very messy. It doesn’t always go as planned or make smooth transitions. We can get discouraged by the tangled problems of this world. Confusion and chaos surround us here, as we live in a sinful and dark world. But we are called to be lights. We know the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the One Who makes sense of it all. This is the One we are called to proclaim to the nations and people around us. This is very rough. We won’t always be comfortable and have what we want. We won’t always be on Christianity’s kiddy course. When we’re out in the world but not of the world, we will have to face difficult things and difficult times. There is most certainly a time for learning, preparation and mentoring in our life, but what is the point of all this nurturing if we never become spiritual adults? To be a Christian is to live a Christian life everywhere, not just at church, home, and family-friendly events. There are dark places in this world that need our help, and those places are filled with pain. The cross of Jesus is painful. This is probably one of the biggest things we try to ignore or downplay. We have all seen the pictures of cute, little kids praying or going to church. We’ve all seen the Christian family who seems to have it all together. But this life is painful. We will be persecuted, we will face difficulties, we will struggle with things. We will be heartbroken for the lost, suffering and hurting. We will feel the pain Jesus felt for us when He looked out over the crowd of people crucifying Him. To live this life with the cross we are asking God to break our hearts over the same things that break His.
Now read Matthew 27:51-54
The cross of Jesus may be messy, painful and rough, but this cross Jesus bore is what bought our salvation. We carry it not because we are taking a pilgrimage to please God and pay penance but because it is what has saved our lives, and we want everyone to know that so God can be glorified. The cross was two crude borders nailed together and raised high, covered in long, sharp splinters that can sink into the skin and break off. Jesus was nailed to this cross by His hands and feet and left to hang there until He died. His blood poured out and covered this cross in a sweaty, sticky muddle. But it is on this unsanded altar the Lamb of God sacrificed Himself to buy our eternity. It was the nails in His hands and feet that ripped through the curtain separating us from God. And it is that blood that soaked into and ran down the cross that cleanses us from our sins. We don’t follow thinking it will be easy or neat, but we follow Jesus knowing full well the price He paid for us and being immeasurably grateful for it. We lift His cross high because it is how He paid our debts, washed us clean, and bought our redemption to God, in the roughest, messiest, and most painful way possible. Thank You Jesus our Lord!