The Way of the Cross – Walking with Jesus (Friday)

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Today is Friday.  Good Friday.  The day of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Today, we’re walking with Jesus to the cross.

An old spiritual asks the question, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

The question is a form of anamnesis.  

In Greek philosophy, anamnesis  carries the idea that humans possess knowledge from past incarnations and that learning consists of rediscovering that knowledge within us.  Plato (428BC – 424BC) develops the idea in his works “Meno” and “Phaedo.”

The word is used in the Greek New Testament to translate the words of Jesus at the Last Supper when he broke the bread and poured the wine, saying “Eat this, drink this, in remembrance of me.”

To anamnesis is not to simply recall something.  It is to experience something.

“Were You There” is an anamnestic song that is meant to bring the past events of the cross into the present and, as a result, to change us.

The song did that for the African-American slaves who wrote/sang the song.  The spiritual re-membered the suffering of Christ to the suffering of the African-American community.

Today, let’s re-member, re-experience the events surrounding the cross.

Were we there?  Well, yes.  Maybe we were there with:*

Judas who sold out because Jesus did not meet his political and military expectations.   If it comes between Jesus and our nation’s political and military goals, what’s our choice?

The disciples who deserted Jesus when they realized that hanging with Jesus meant being rejected by the religious and political authorities.  Maybe even jailed or killed!

The religious leaders who were out to get Jesus because he criticized the religious people and made friends with the irreligious.  Jesus had the audacity to put people above religious and moral laws.

Pilate who let Jesus die even though he knew Jesus was innocent.  We take the easy way out instead of standing against injustices.

The soldiers who played games while Jesus died.  While we enjoy the good things of life, a fancy meal for instance, within a few blocks of most of us, hungry children go to bed at night.

Today, on “the way of the cross” maybe we realize that instead of walking with Jesus, we’ve been walking with someone else.

It’s ok.  Jesus loves us anyway.   That’s what the cross is all about.

The ultimate revelation of God.

The ultimate demonstration of God’s love.

The ultimate instruction of how to respond.

But,  re-membering needs to lead to changing.

Lets change walking partners and start walking with Jesus.

*The references to the people surrounding the cross with whom we identify are taken from my old “Systematic Theology” textbook from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Christian Doctrine by Dr. Shirley Guthrie.  That was way back in 1981!  I’m amazed at how relevant his words and applications are.

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The Way of the Cross – Walking with Jesus

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I have written a devotional each day this week, Passion Week, for the church I pastor.  It was suggested that I make them available on my personal blog.  So I am.

Here’s today’s devotional. If you are interested in the earlier ones click here and you can check them out on Facebook.

The Way of The Cross – Walking with Christ (Thursday)

As I typed the title – “The Way of The Cross” – I caught my self humming a tune of a song we would sing in the Baptist churches of my youth: “The Way of the Cross Leads Home.”

Here are the lyrics:

“I must needs go home by the way of the cross,

There’s no other way but this;

I shall ne’er get sight of the gates of light,

If the way of the cross I miss.”

Then the chorus:

“The way of the cross leads home; (then all the bass singers would echo “Leads home”)

The way of the cross leads home; (leads home),

It is sweet to know as I onward go,

The way of the cross leads home.” 

The tune had a marching sound to it.  It was like we were marching home.  Home, according to the last verse of the song, is heaven:

“Then I bid farewell to the way of the world,

To walk in it nevermore,

For the Lord says, ‘Come,’ and I seek my  home,

Where He waits at the open door.”

Is the way of the cross simply about getting into heaven?  Here are the instructions a lot of us were given:

“If you accept Jesus as your Savior, and believe that he died on the cross to forgive you of your sin, then you will be saved, and go to heaven when you die.”

Easy peasy.

That’s pretty much what the “way of the cross” meant to me.

How about you?

The cross was little more, if nothing more, than the way to get to heaven.

Maybe we missed it.  Maybe there’s more to it.

Let’s think about the “way of the cross in light of 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

“Foolishness.” Paul uses that word again in 1 Corinthians 1:21 to describe the message that is preached.

What makes the cross, the way of the cross, the message of the cross, foolish? Check it out. Compare it to the way of the world (I just started humming the Earth Wind and Fire tune!).

The world says, “Hate your enemies.”
The cross says, “Love your enemies.”

The world says, “Do unto them before they do unto you.”
The cross says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The world says, “Eye for an eye!”
The cross says, “Forgive those who wrong you.”

The world says, “People who do wrong should be killed.”

The cross says, “Those who are without sin cast the first stone.”

The world says, “It isn’t cheating, if you don’t actually do it.”
The cross says, “Even if you merely think of cheating you are guilty of it.”

The world says, “Might makes right!”
The cross says, “Truth and love make right.”

The world says, “You get hit, hit ‘em back harder.”

The cross says, “You get hit, turn the other cheek.”

The world says, “The Greatest are the greatest.”
The cross says, “The Greatest are the least.”
The contrasts go on and on!

What do you think?
The way of the cross sounds foolish, doesn’t it?  Does Jesus really expect us to live like that?

The way of the cross seems hard, doesn’t it?

It’s a lot easier to just accept Jesus as my Savior who died on the cross for my sins than to actually live the way of the cross.

Did Jesus have the “way of the cross” in mind when he said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”?  Is this really a calling for us to live a way of life that looks like His?

Is this “way” what Jesus referred to in Matthew 7:13-14 when he talked about the narrow way being pretty isolated but the wide way being crowded?

Is this “way” what Jesus was thinking about when he told Peter that Peter was thinking wrong (Maybe thinking like the world?) and that Peter needed to take up his cross and follow him (Matthew 16:23-24)?

Today, let’s walk with Jesus.  Let’s live the way of the cross.