Luke 9: 22And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Having just returned from the holy land, the sites we saw and the experiences we had are still fresh in my memory. I suppose nothing impacted me more than walking the Via Dola Rosa or The Way of Suffering. This is said to be the same path that Jesus took when carrying his cross for his own crucifixion. The way of the cross is not a national park. Much of the way is lined with shops. It has no sense of holiness with shopkeepers stopping the pilgrims asking them to purchase their wares. Others blast loud Islamic prayers to try to drown out the prayers of the pilgrims who are walking the path.
I was the designated song leader on the trip and I started singing “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” as we walked the path. The street was crowded and it was intimidating to sing with all the noise of the merchants. I was self-conscious and wasn’t sure I should be singing while I was so clearly surrounded by so many people who were muslim. At one point I stopped thinking that maybe I was being inappropriate. Our Arab Christian guide asked if I would start singing again. “This is beautiful” he said.
I am struck with how much this is like our daily lives. Jesus asks us to carry our own crosses everyday in a world that is often hostile to our faith. It is easy for stop our song and attempt to fit in due to the opposition. As we celebrate Good Friday we have a choice. We can cheer Jesus on for how well he carried his cross or we can pick up our own cross and follow him. They way of the cross leads right down the street you live on. It isn’t a national park and it isn’t reserved for Sundays. Jesus tells us to take it up “daily”. The irony is that as we carry our own cross, we find ourselves, but if we put it down in order to gain the world, we lose our very selves.
- Must Jesus bear the cross alone, And all the world go free? No, there’s a cross for everyone, And there’s a cross for me.
- How happy are the saints above, Who once went sorr’wing here! But now they taste unmingled love, And joy without a tear.
- The consecrated cross I’ll bear Till death shall set me free; And then go home my crown to wear, For there’s a crown for me.
- Upon the crystal pavement down At Jesus’ pierced feet, Joyful I’ll cast my golden crown And His dear Name repeat.
- O precious cross! O glorious crown! O resurrection day! When Christ the Lord from heav’n comes down And bears my soul away.