Posted in 2022 Lent Devotions

Carrying a cross

“Mirror of the Passion” Lent devotion for March 26, 2022. Photo by Geralt on pixabay.

As they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)

It sounds like Simon had just gotten back to town when he’s forced to carry Jesus’ cross to the place of crucifixion. In the wrong place at the wrong time, he’s dragged into the passion of our Lord.

I wonder if Simon knew who Jesus was? Did he know what happened in the Jerusalem over the past few days? Would he be proud or ashamed to tell this story in the future? Did anyone know Simon and see him carrying Jesus’ cross? Did he have to explain what he was doing?

I wonder how much the cross weighed? Was it just the cross piece, kind of like carrying a four by four post. That’s got some weight to it. Or was it a whole cross, a couple of pieces of wood to drag the half mile to Golgotha? Was it new, unused wood? Or was it stained with the blood of those who had been crucified on it in the past? Were there already holes where the nails had been driven though hands and feet? I’v got so many questions.

On a few medical mission trips, members of our team got carried away when packing large suitcases filled with medication and hygiene items for the clinics. We often had to help each other drag multiple fifty pound duffles through airports, customs, and security checkpoints. Lifting that load into a car is one thing. Dragging it hundreds of yards is another!

When I read about Simon, I can help but think of Jesus’ words, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Here he teaches that discipleship is not about what you’re going to get, but what you’re giving up. Ultimately, it means giving up your life to find it again in Christ. Treasure in heaven is hard to get hold of when your hands are full of the things of this life. Something has to give.

If Jesus came to visit, I’d pick him up at the airport. I would grab his suitcase from the baggage conveyor and pull it out to my car. If we went out to eat, I would pick up the tab.

Carrying his cross might not be so bad. When you think about it, Jesus carries my cross, with all my sin, guilt and shame. In exchange, I get to carry his, a source of grace and forgiveness. His cross is so much lighter!

Lord, I’m ready to let go and hold on. Amen.

Posted in 2022 Lent Devotions

The greatest

“Mirror of the Passion” Lent devotion for March 9, 2022. Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

“A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.” (Luke 22:24)

This one’s a cinch. It is easy to see myself in this mirror, right there among the disciples who got into a discussion about who was the greatest. They had done this before. They had this argument right after Jesus’ transfiguration. Right after his brief moment of glory. And they still didn’t get it.

Neither do we. Ours is a world of comparisons, and we constantly jockey for position. Who’s happier? Who’s prettier? Who’s got more money? Who has more fun? Who’s got a bigger church? Who makes better food? Who’s smarter? Who’s kids are smarter? Who’s in better shape?

Which disciple was the greatest? The first one Jesus called? The one he handed the bread to first? The ones sitting closest to him? The ones who gave up their businesses to follow him? The strongest one? The ones with the loudest voices?

That’s our world. Everything is a competition. “I was first.” “I won.” “Shotgun!” “I beat you.” “You lose!” Employee of the month. MVP. “Mom always liked you more.” “I’m taller than you.”

Why is that? Why is it so important to be the best? That’s who gets the prize. You’ve got to place in the top three or you get nothing (except maybe an honorable mention certificate). If you can’t make it to the podium, you could have just stayed home.

When one of my daughters did competitive cheerleading, the coaches had a strategy for making sure the team brought home a first place trophy. They would enter the team into a division that no one else was in. Something like “Small Coed Novice under-12 over-11.” Guess what? They always finished first. They got to hang up another championship banner at the gym.

Jesus has to straighten out the disciples and us. True, in the non-believing world you’ve got to come out on top. But that’s not the way we do it around here. The one who serves is the greatest. That’s exactly what Jesus has done for them. He has just served them a Passover meal. Like a server at a restaurant. The path to the top means becoming the least. Just like Jesus, who humbled himself and became everybody’s servant and everybody’s savior.

I don’t have to be the greatest. Jesus doesn’t love me because I’m the best. He just loves me.

You’re the greatest Jesus. Amen.