Bearing the Cross

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. Luke 9:23 (NIV).

Having had the good fortune to come into possession of a tabletop sculpture of the Last Supper, I spent years moving it here and there, trying to find a good, permanent home for this statement piece. Finally, I settled on making it the centerpiece of a grouping of Christian keepsakes I have collected over the years. 

Towards the back of the table is a copy of an unstaged photo our assistant pastor snapped, showing our youth pastor transporting the lifesize cross our church displays to commemorate the crucifixion from storage to a spot in our sanctuary. He is not a small man, yet he appears to be straining to shoulder the weight of the massive wooden cross. 

Recently I had the idea to move my neglected photo from an inexpensive frame to one worthy of its subject, pristine white in the Baroque fashion. Only now do I realize the ornate frame, instead of accentuating its subject, detracts from it. Not only has this motivated me to return the photo to its original unadorned frame, but also to relocate it to a more noticeable space up front in keeping with its powerful message. 

Too often, in our peculiarly modern way of reducing grisly facts into manageable symbols, we wear a replica of the cross as jewelry, failing to focus on the fact the real cross on which our Savior hung was designed by the Romans as a torturous execution device. We tend to think making the cross of precious metal is a sufficient nod to the extraordinary sacrifice made that dark day on Calvary. To do so is to trivialize just how far the Son and the Father were willing to go to conquer death and open the door to eternal life for those who choose. Christ was ever mindful of his fate and echoed it when he challenged the masses to take up their own cross and follow him.

Following Christ comes at a cost and we should use the symbols we have at our disposal of art and mementos to keep us focused on the gravity of the subject matter. Yet Christ’s life and message doesn’t stop with the crucifixion. At the opposite end of my table is a fitting counterpoint --a resin scroll depicting the empty tomb and bearing the scripture from Matthew 28:6---He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. May we take joy and comfort from Christ making his promise a reality.

Blessed Jesus, Help us to better understand the lessons from your life and put them into practice in ours. Amen 

Carol (NC)