The end of Lent is almost at hand and I look forward to the familiar events ahead. Jesus has traveled to Jerusalem. The gladhanders and backslappers cut their palm branches, but then they melted away into the background when the testing time arrived. Jesus is above the city, on the Mount of Olives, when he cries out his lament over its failure to discern the coming events.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!
Let us not be like Jerusalem. It is time; it was and now is the moment to repent my brothers and sisters. I will say it again, repent. Stand tall and pass the test that Jerusalem and its people failed; be counted on the right side of the line Jesus has drawn in the sand. An yet again, I say repent. Humble yourself. Stoop down and take up your cross; walk the walk that follows the feet that trod the only path of salvation. Yes; be all you can be. Be a soldier of the cross.
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. Matthew 10:38
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. Matthew 16:24-25
Stand at the foot of the cross, and count the purple drops by which you have been cleansed; see the thorn-crown; mark His scourged shoulders, still gushing with encrimsoned rills; see hands and feet given up to the rough iron, and His whole self to mockery and scorn; see the bitterness, and the pangs, and the throes of inward grief, showing themselves in His outward frame; hear the thrilling shriek, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” And if you do not lie prostrate on the ground before that cross, you have never seen it: if you are not humbled in the presence of Jesus, you do not know Him. You were so lost that nothing could save you but the sacrifice of God’s only begotten. (C.H. Spurgeon)
It looms before Jesus and us, before history and all creation. It is the lever of salvation wielded by Christ “to move the world of sin into the world of redemption”. Contemplate the uncontemplatable and let it drive you prostrate under the weight of the sacrifice of all sacrifices. It drove Jesus to sweat blood in the garden. It should drive us to our knees and then to our faces, kissing the earth where that course wooden beam will meet its destiny, a lever to move all history, all purpose, all creation out of the futility that has held it captive.
Yes, it is Thursday. Jesus makes his way toward Lazarus and then Jerusalem and destiny. May our hearts echo the words of Thomas as he turned and followed.
Let us go too, that we may die along with Him. John 11:16b
Dear Lord, be with us as we approach the culmination of our journey. Guard our hearts in Christ Jesus as we step out to meet the challenges ahead. Grant us the grace to repent of all that hinders, so that we can strip off and throw aside every encumbrance that clings to and entangles us. Remember us, O Lord, that we may be with you in paradise, to the honor and glory of your name. Amen.