Perhaps you have seen the crucifixion portrayed in film, with Jesus carrying either a crossbeam or a full cross. Historical research seems to indicate wooden uprights as being permanent placements at Roman execution sites, while the convicted person only had the crossbeam roped to his shoulders to carry to the site. I recently put an app on my phone that works as a level. I was recording video and wanted to make sure the frame wasn’t crooked. In a sense, the crossbeam is that way for me. When I align my crossbeam, with Christ’s, the playing field of my life gets leveled out. Perhaps that is why Jesus gave us all a clear invitation to partake.
Willing to Endure
“If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake, he is the one who will save it [from the consequences of sin and separation from God]. Lk. 9:23-24 (AMP)
On the cross, Jesus leveled his own soul in a sense, not allowing offense to attach itself in his grief. The words are famous: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Lk. 23:34 Our lingering reactions to being wounded in life, are subtle purveyors that keep us from being rooted and grounded in God’s love. Saving our life (self-protection) is the logical choice when compared to the risk of being vulnerable. I wonder if anyone paid attention to Jesus’ dying to himself as he chose forgiveness?
“The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself’…One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’” Lk. 23:35-37, 39 The sign of Jesus’ kingship that they were looking for, was self preservation. It’s most people’s default choice, is it not? But one person was touched by the Spirit of Christ.
“But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,” he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Lk. 23:40-43 What can be more glorious than having your heart come into agreement with the heart of Christ? Wise man. In losing his life, he saved it.
Don’t Follow the Crowd
There were two primary chants from the crowd at Golgotha’s hill. “Come down from the cross.” and “Save yourself.” In one form or another, this is what I frequently hear when I’m in a time of testing or pruning. It’s been that way lately. It’s almost like the inner voices combined with outer circumstances, have joined forces to sling suggestions my way, aimed at moving me from my assignment. Ministries end this way. So do marriages.
Disperse the Resistance
Let me encourage you today. Fight back. Here’s the knockout punch: “’Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last…When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. Lk. 23:46,48 Surefire way to disperse the crowd! And what feels like that last breath, will be a springboard into resurrection.
Image by Robert Allmann from Pixabay