Tuesday, March 19 – Staying Close to the Cross

Luke 9: 22-25; 23:1,2,16,18,20,24,32,46

(Jesus) told them that the Child of Humanity must undergo much suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scholars, and be put to death, and rise on the third dau.  And to everyone he said, “If anyone wishes to walk in my steps, let them renounce self, take up their cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save their life will lose it, and whoever, for my sake, loses their life—that person will save it.  What good does it do someone, if they have gained the whole world, and lost or forfeited themselves…..

Having arrested Jesus, they brought him to the governor Pilate. And they began to accuse him: “This is someone whom we found misleading our people, opposing paying taxes to the emperor, and give out that he himself is the Anointed One, a king.”…..Pilate said to them, “I will have him whipped and then release him…” But they began to shout as one, “Get rid of him…Crucify him.”…Pilate decided that their demand should be granted…. 

They crucified Jesus and the criminals…Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last…

Many of us have been raised with the impression that Jesus was the primary victim of crucifixion by the Roman empire.  This could hardly be farther from reality.  The Roman empire used crucifixion as a policy of state terror, crucifying hundreds of thousands of people.  This policy was meant to keep all of the different peoples ruled militarily by Rome in fear of violence.  Crucifixion was designed as public torture and humiliation.  It almost always happened in a highly visible public place, like a high hill, a market place, or a main intersection of two roads.  Those crucified were left to die slowly in public, and in most cases left on the cross after death so that birds could start eating at their bodies.  Most crucified victims—and very possibly Jesus—were buried in mass graves without any identification, notice to loved ones, or funeral.   When we think about Jesus crucified, it is important to think of him as one of hundreds of thousands of faceless tortured masses.

In this Lenten practice of remembering that we are not alone, we are in the shadow of two important dimensions of Jesus’ crucifixion:

1)    Jesus was not alone.  He was a part of hundreds of thousands of people in his day that were brutally terrorized and massacred by a powerful empire.  So in this case, our not being alone puts us both in the company of Jesus and countless others tortured and killed by mindless power in his day.

2)    Jesus, as seen above in the scripture, challenged people to take up their cross and follow him to this gruesome death.

Consider the following focus for your daily prayer and meditation:

Notice where you feel alone, hurt, or misunderstood.  Stay close to Jesus on the cross as your companion.


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