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March 26th: Lift High the Cross



Scripture: Mark 15:21-24


Lift High the Cross

I have used the word “tragedy” to describe moments of Jesus’ journey to the cross.  It is a tragedy, but we know that there is more to the story.  We know that death gets swallowed up in victory.  We know that God so loved the world that He sent His Son Jesus to save us.  While it is a tragedy that it took such a cost to save us, we can be truly grateful.  This tragedy is truly a love story.

 

In Mark 15:21-24, we find a special moment amidst the chaos of Christ's crucifixion. Simon of Cyrene is pressed into service, to carry the cross for Jesus. This mundane act holds profound significance, embodying the call for believers to shoulder their crosses and follow Christ.  Even if the Gospel of John insists this didn’t happen, it is a teachable moment for us.  (I personally side with John.  Jesus, the Son of God, could have carried his own cross.)

 

As we reflect on Simon's encounter with the cross, we're reminded of the unpredictability of life. Simon was just passing by; he wasn’t there to watch this tragic spectacle.  Like Simon, we may find ourselves unexpectedly burdened with challenges, responsibilities, or hardships. These burdens often appear when we least expect them, disrupting our plans and challenging our resolve. 

 

Yet, just as Simon carried the physical weight of Christ's cross, we are called to carry our spiritual burdens with courage and faith. Our crosses may take various forms—illness, loss, disappointment, or persecution. However, regardless of their nature, they serve as opportunities for growth and transformation.  And when we are a part of Christ, Matthew 11:30 reminds us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.  Jesus will help us through.

 

Simon's act of carrying the cross exemplifies discipleship. It's a reminder that following Christ requires sacrifice and selflessness. Often, our crosses demand that we let go of our own desires and preferences, choosing instead to align ourselves with God's will.

 

Moreover, Simon's participation in Christ's suffering underscores the communal aspect of faith. None of us journey alone; we are bound together as members of the body of Christ. When one member suffers, the entire body suffers. Therefore, as we bear our crosses, we can find solace and support in the fellowship of believers. Remember the paralyzed man who had friends who would carry his cot to Jesus.

 

In bearing our crosses, we echo the very essence of Christ's redemptive work. Through His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus bore the weight of humanity's sin, offering us forgiveness and reconciliation with God. In our own small way, as we carry our crosses, we participate in this redemptive process, sharing in Christ's sufferings and pointing others toward the hope of salvation.

  

Ultimately, it’s a love story.  What will you do as a reaction of being loved so fully by God through Jesus Christ?  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  In spreading God’s love, working to live like we were created to live, all with God’s help, we are helping Jesus to shoulder his cross.

 

Questions:

1.     What will you do as a reaction of being loved so fully by God through Jesus Christ?

2.     What unexpected circumstances in your life may be God trying to get your attention?

3.     When has an unexpected circumstance truly been a blessing from God?

 

Prayer:

Dear God, thank You for your amazing gifts.  You have turned a tragedy into a love story.  You have swallowed up death in victory.  Please grant us the strength and courage to bear the cross and continue your work of love in this world. Amen.

 

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