This week’s devotion begins quite ominously and somber. We enter into the event where Pilate delivered Jesus to them to be crucified. This action happened right after Pilate made another attempt to release Jesus but was shouted down: “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar!” John 19:15.
Let’s take a look at this moment. Jesus, our Savior, God Himself, is rejected by the nation. Perhaps we can imagine Jesus speaking and praying the words, “Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked.” Psalm 43:1
Carrying His cross on His back, Jesus went out to a place called the Place of the Skull. Each step Jesus took was Him overcoming the temptation of the devil. Each step He took; in great pain and agony, was a step closer to our salvation. Each agonizing step illuminated his defeat of the devil. We see how the prophecy in Psalm 22 is being fulfilled. “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.” “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver since he delights in him.” Psalm 22:7-8.
They could only take Jesus because He readily consented. Jesus willingly did this. They could only place the cross on His tortured back because Jesus himself willed it! Every step He took along the path leading to Golgotha (Place of the Skull), was His willing assent. How do we know this? Jesus Himself told us. “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:18.
When Jesus stumbles and is suffering while carrying His cross, we witness His love and mercy for us. Carrying our cross is exactly what He does. This presents a clear picture of Jesus’ saving work for us—He took our sins upon Himself. This vision gives us strength and empowers us this Lenten season! Allow this vision to provide you with the boldness to confess your sin, receive in faith this hard-won salvation, and to fight against our sin. It was Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection that achieved our salvation.
If we follow Jesus on his journey, we begin to understand that in Jesus’ sufferings, we see our journey mirrored in His. In somber hours, we experience similar emotions of helplessness and sometimes hopelessness. To experience times like this, we need some glimmer of light, some hint of hope beyond our abilities, a view of perseverance that comes from faith and trust in God.
The Cross ~ Just as we don’t all need the same amount of worldly comforts, food, and material things to live – neither do we need the same amount of spiritual nourishment. That is what the Cross is in our life – spiritual nourishment proportional to our needs.
Closing Prayer ~ Lord, help us to accept our sufferings by recognizing the cross as the symbol of our faith, and through your love, we embrace our own cross, made healing by your death and resurrection. We ask Father that you give us the grace to look back on our story and to rediscover your love for us.