Grace: A deep desire to have sorrow and compassion for Jesus, to suffer with Him, because He is going to His Passion for me.
Text for Prayer: Mk. 8:31-38
Reflection: At this point in the life of Christ, it is clear that Jesus knows what is coming. The cross is immediately before Him, and His words to His disciples now become the hard words of warning that they just cannot seem to understand or accept. Caught up in their own notions of what the Messiah’s reign will look like and what the Christ will do for them, they lose sight of the fact that Jesus is now speaking to them quite plainly. He is inviting them to the cross.
The cross of Christ is made of wood, but the cross we are invited to bear is likely made up of something quite different: a painful memory, a broken relationship, a physical ailment, a loved one who does not return our love, or some other source of pain and shame. It is characteristic of the cross that it not be desirable or fashionable, that it be immensely difficult to carry, and that it often tempt us to put it down or seek someone else to carry it for us. By its very nature, the cross is hard to bear, and so the invitation of Christ to carry our cross with Him is an invitation to hardship.
Crucifixion is a horrifying prospect for the would-be, sometimes followers of Christ mentioned in today’s passage from Mark’s Gospel, too. They want a King of Glory who establishes peace and goodwill for all mankind; they are looking for an earthly king that will satisfy their every need. They don’t see the need for the horrible suffering and gore that is the Roman practice of crucifixion. And what good could such a spectacle really accomplish?
Such questioning reveals a heart that is full of its own plans and its own ideas about what is best. Peter, the first among all the apostles, does not yet possess a heart like unto Christ’s, and he therefore responds with a confused rebuke when Jesus speaks of the necessity of His Crucifixion.
However, in Jesus’s words to Peter, there is also an invitation, an invitation that is now extended to us in our lives right now: Jesus desires that we might accompany Him on this long, difficult road to Calvary. He does not want us to watch from a distance or walk ahead of Him or hide in the crowd that follows after Him. Instead, Jesus invites us to pick up our own cross, to stand beside Him, to be mocked with Him and ultimately to be crucified with Him in order that we too might enter into His glory.
Questions: What does my own cross look like? How might the Lord be inviting me to carry it in a new way? How has my experience of accompanying Jesus these past few weeks made me more willing to stand close to Him at this time? What might still be keeping me from placing myself with Jesus on His way to the cross?