by Joanie Butman
During the Easter sunrise service, I felt convicted for omitting an integral piece of the story in last week’s blog on the Passion of Christ. One page in particular came to mind. It was the illustration of Christ being scourged. The six-year-old artist drew the event occurring in a traditional house, not in the courtyard of a palace with a large audience. The poignancy of the drawing is that it points to something we all like to gloss over as we bask in the glory of Easter; namely, our participation in the crucifixion. Until I can acknowledge that He died for MY sins, the enormity of His sacrifice on my behalf can’t fully be appreciated. “He was wounded for my transgressions, he was bruised for my iniquities…”
It is tempting to look back with self-righteousness on those that orchestrated Christ's death, carried out the torture and execution, called for His crucifixion and deserted or denied Him in His darkest hour. Yet, how many times do we choose to do the same over the course of our lives? Often, as young Joanie’s picture suggests – within the privacy of our own homes in the way we treat our families or even ourselves. Think about it this way: every time we lash out at someone (verbally, physically or mentally), it’s another stripe on His back. Or perhaps we are the recipient of the lashing. How do we choose to respond? With vengeance or grace?
That reality is what makes the gift of Easter personal. Christ’s passion is still playing out as we all walk the Via Dolorosa with Him – sometimes helping Him carry His cross, offering water or wiping His brow, watching in horror; or sadly, sometimes with indifference. How often do we turn away in fear, concerned more with our own safety and comfort? How do we choose to forgive those who persecute us? The choices we make on a daily basis determine who we are in that procession at any point in time. I love the following illustration. Look closely at the identity of those in the crowd. Then insert your own.
Can you imagine the courage it took for Christ to choose the path God set before Him? We will never be asked to suffer the way Jesus did, but we are asked at times to choose to die to self, to nail our own selfish desires and agendas to the cross so that we can walk God’s chosen path for us in freedom. Like Christ, the cost is surrender, aligning our will with God’s. We all have our own Via Dolorosa to walk. How we choose to travel it, however, is our choice. Christ said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
What cross are you struggling with today, and how do you choose to carry it? Downcast and burdened with bitterness and resentment, or with a Heavenly focus full of trust and hope?
A video I received recently. I share it to give you something to think about this week.