“Then Jesus began to tell the disciples about what would happen to Him. He said He would have to go to Jerusalem. There the elders, chief priests, and scribes would meet Him; He would suffer at their hands; and He would be killed. But three days later, He would be raised to new life.
As Jesus spoke of the things to come, Peter took Him aside. Sad and confused, and maybe a little bit prideful, Peter chastised Jesus.
Peter: No, Lord! Never! These things that You are saying—they will never happen to You!
Jesus (turning to Peter): Get away from Me, Satan!
You are a stumbling block before Me! You are not thinking about God’s story; you are thinking about some distorted story of fallen, broken people. Matthew 16:21-23 VOICE
The act of love- the extent of walking through unbearable suffering and suffocating on a cross is something I cannot fully grasp. As I’ve prayed, planned and mulled over this devotional, my heart has tried to capture a palatable way of presenting this critical part of the Lenten journey. And yet my spirit awakens me in the middle of the night with these truths:
The Word of God stands alone and I dare not lessen it, or try to embellish it.
And, the sacrifice that Jesus carried out on my behalf is something I dare not turn my eyes away from.
“I’d like to be content for forty days with a cross that isn’t pretty. But I am so young in my faith and the vessel I carry this dying around in is so fragile. It is hard not to cheat a little and search for soft, easy, pretty crosses.
O God of Lent, remember me! For one short season at least let me give up my pink-shadowed crosses, my jewel-filled crosses, my plastic crosses. Take all the clutter I try to decorate my crosses with, all the ways I try to camouflage your death and dying to look at death as it really is: an emptiness that brings me face to face with life.”
As I mentioned last week, I can relate to Peter. I can imagine walking next to Jesus and hearing the foretelling of His journey and wanting to fight every bit of it. There is a loyal part of me that wants to go with Jesus on this journey. But another, more cautious part that wants to turn away from anything that hints of death. And yet, I stand with Peter all the way. I do not think the thoughts of God. My thoughts are painfully my own.
And Jesus knows this, and responds to my spun-up heart:
“From the cross the arms of Jesus stretch out like wings- wide and all embracing. So inclusive are these arms of God even I am drawn in. I, who chose not to go to Jerusalem.
My eyes rest on the wood of the cross. So this is where that journey led you!....And yet, those arms of God, those wings of love keep on encircling me. I feel incredibly taken in, accepted, loved.
May this wood of the cross be my tree of life, leading me to all the Jerusalems I still must journey.”