We can become attached to and cling to a lot of things in this world. It might be your next vacation or adventure, maybe it's a promotion in your job, maybe its education or the education of your children. Pastor Adam encouraged us to cling to grace. To cling to God’s promise. To cling to the CROSS. Christus Solus. Christ alone. It’s enough. It’s everything.
The cross is the central theme of Christianity. However, during Jesus’ time, it was a mode of execution. Perhaps something like the electric chair in today’s world. We don’t exactly celebrate and wear jewelry depicting the electric chair, do we? Are you willing to travel this Holy Week toward Easter with Jesus?
INVITATION: Join in this week to take a close look at the cross. Not the beautiful, decorative type of cross, but the old and beat up cross of Jesus, who bled and died on your behalf and on my behalf. Focusing on the death of Jesus can be intense and seem overwhelming. But like Jesus said to his disciples prior to his death: “pray with me for just one hour.” (Matthew 26:40) This week will you journey with Jesus toward the cross in an intentional way - for just one week? Try to enter into the experience in new ways, “sharing in the sufferings of Christ. (I Peter 4:13) so that you may know and understand Jesus in new ways. So that you may trust and cling to the cross in your every day life and circumstances.
MONDAY: John 19:1-2: The lead tipped whip, the purple robe and the crown of thorns were all elements of torture and mockery. Sit with the truth that Jesus endured torture and mockery on your behalf. Consider your response to Jesus’ sacrifice for you in terms of how you might view life, live life and interact with others this week and moving forward.
TUESDAY: I Peter 2:24. By his wounds you are healed. This is something called “the great exchange” that occurred on - and because of - the cross. Because Jesus bore what you deserved, you can be free and healed. Are you living in freedom and full healing? What chains do you need to let go of today and accept Christ’s full payment? Is there someone you need to forgive….maybe even yourself?
WEDNESDAY: 2 Timothy 4:8: If you have accepted Jesus’ payment for your sins, you have a "crown of righteousness" waiting for you. The crown Jesus had to endure was a crown of thorns. A crown was not typically part of the crucifixion process. The Romans did this purely to mock Jesus. This again is a picture of the beautiful and “great exchange": Jesus endured the earthly thorny crown so that you and I can have the crown of righteousness. Thorns for Jesus. Righteousness for you. What an exchange! How can you thank Jesus in your prayer time today? What emotions does this conjure up for you as you think about it and realize what this exchange means in your life?
THURSDAY: Luke 23:32-34: Jesus is left hanging on a cross between two criminals, with soldiers playing dice games at the foot of the cross. Even though these people deserve the wrath of God, Jesus prayed for their forgiveness. As you think about your life, could you be playing games at the foot of the cross, while Jesus is pleading for you to come to Him and live in His fullness? Are you willing to ask God where you might be playing games in your life? God’s forgiveness does not discriminate - no matter how bad, or how long ago or how many times. Is your standard higher than Jesus? Do you need to accept the forgiveness of Jesus, and perhaps extend that same forgiveness to someone else?
FRIDAY: Mark 15:33-34: Part of the sacrifice of Jesus involved his separation from God. Jesus endured this in order to save us from having to face separation. Romans 8 tells us that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38). Jesus endured suffering, shame, mockery AND separation on our behalf. How do you think this might be helpful for you the next time you feel “far away” or “separate” from God?
SATURDAY: John 19:28-30: It is finished. His work on earth was completed.
Slowly read the following poem by Lois Cheney, and allow yourself to linger with each stanza. Stay with the words wonder, weep and rejoice. How does the cross help you to know Christ, feel Christ and see Christ? What does it mean for you to carry the cross in your life?
I stand before the cross
I stand before the cross
I kneel before the cross
I pray before the cross
To know the cross
Is to know Christ.
To feel the cross
Is to feel Christ.
To gaze at the cross
Is to gaze at Christ.
To carry the cross
Is to be a Christian,
And not until then.
God, forgive me.