For the Joy

This year our church once again did a Journey to the Cross, an art experience to help people engage the events of Christ’s final week on earth. I chose to create something to depict the step of Christ carrying his cross.

Christ Carries His Cross

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). John 19:15-17

As I pondered the step of Christ carrying the cross, my mind was drawn to the weight of it. Beyond the physical burden, there must have been a great internal weight, one he’d shouldered long before men shoved the crossbeam onto his shoulders and forced him to carry it up the hill towards Golgotha.

I wondered when he began to understand that his destiny would involve such a painful end. Even as a youth, hanging out in the temple with the learned teachers, a sense of his purpose coming into clearer view, was he feeling a sense of homesickness, as the pain of separation from his Father sunk in?

As he fingered the wood in his father Joseph’s carpentry shop, did the occasional splinter foretell of the day when the cross would be laid on his back and ugly splinters embedded in his torn and bleeding flesh?

As he called his disciples to him one by one, did his heart break inside, knowing that one by one those he loved would one day turn their backs on him?

Did he see through the praise of the crowds as he healed and fed and taught them, to the day they would rage against him, and cry out “Crucify him!”

I wonder, as soldiers dragged him outside the city walls, and thrust the rough hewn beam upon his bleeding back, taunting him as he stumbled along, staggering under the burden he alone could bear, was the weight thereof merely a manifestation of the weight he had born all along?

How did he endure it all . . . the insults and accusations . . . the betrayal and abandoning . . . the pain, the separation? How did he bear it . . . all the way to the end?

Or perhaps it was not the end . . . but the beginning.

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of God. Hebrews 12:2

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