After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body.
~ John 19:38
As Lent continues, I have to admit, about this time through each Lenten season encounter, I begin to think of the cross.
It is both a symbol of daunting circumstances, as well as, a place where chapters end and new ones begin.
I think of the person who first looked at the tree that would serve as the symbol of the Christian faith for centuries to come. Did children sit beneath the shade of the tree that a man would pronounce "It is finished?" Where did it grow? Was it among a great forest, or a lonesome tree left by the side of the road?
I think of the hands that cut the tree down, removed branches, and began the task of "squaring up" that which used to be round. With each slice, years of growth, seasons of weather, wind and rain, sun and moon fell away.
And then, I think of the person who fashioned the pieces into a cross. Was the person a slave? A free person, perhaps with a son, who was teaching the skills of a carpenter. How ironic.
I wonder if Jesus, when he first saw these pieces of timber fashioned into the cross he would parade through the city, carrying it upon his shoulder, did he give thought to the quality and craftsmanship that someone who was raised by a carpenter might note?
I can't begin to imagine the thoughts, how it must have looked, and if the smell of fresh cut wood helped to overcome the scent of sweat and blood?
While Jesus healed the paralytic, he commanded the man to "take up his mat and walk."
He now was commanded to take up THIS cross and walk.
With each step, he became more like the cross he carried. Layers of seasons, the experiences of life, fell to the ground with each drop of blood, like the sawdust of the cross while it was being made into something else.
To imagine the cross, is to imagine ourselves. While we make a conscious decision to carry Christ with us, Christ doesn't have that choice when it comes to us. We are the undeniable presence upon the shoulders of a God who loves us unto eternity.
Praying that today I see the image of the cross, and know that I am remaining in God's grip, with each step we take.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Loving God, thank You for taking hold of me, and carrying me through every moment of my life. Amen.
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.