The cross is before our eyes during the Season of Lent. We repeat the refrain from Hebrews 12: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross…” On Good Friday we spend hours at the foot of the cross. It is more than a symbol to Christians. The cross is central to our faith.
When I consider the cross it is usually in the direction of the past. The work of Jesus on the cross shapes me by forgiving all my sins. I look back over my week and am shaped by Christ’s forgiveness, freed from my mistakes, and remade into a new creation through the baptismal waters. I often look back to the cross and see that the cross of Christ has reshaped my life to save me from all the things I’ve done wrong in the past.
The cross doesn’t just shape my yesterdays though. It also shapes me for tomorrow! The life of the Christian is decidedly, Cross-Shaped. The cross doesn’t just wipe out my sinful past, but it paves for me a certain future. It directs me down specific roads and into unique situations that I would not follow alone. The cross shapes me to be a follower of Jesus from this point forward!
When Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow him he is not referring to the sins of my past going onto the cross, but the steps of my future. He is directing me to a cross shaped life. He is guiding me to lead a life of service and love; even a life of suffering and death. Dying to my own needs the cross empowers us to jump into the mess of this world to offer care, love, and grace. Instead of running away from suffering, the cross shapes us to be people who jump into the mess with both feet, unafraid of the consequences to our own lives and well being so that the love of Jesus might be made known to all people.
Jesus found JOY in going to the cross. I know we find joy looking back to the cross as the great eraser of our past sins, but might we also find JOY in letting the cross shape our steps for the future! I wonder what joy will be found in carrying our cross today and tomorrow?