"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son." John 3:16
As we approach Good Friday, the day of Jesus' death on the cross, we stand at the foot of the cross and we see the great price paid for our salvation. At the cross we see the mighty love of Jesus, love so strong that he offered his life for our own.
But on the journey to the cross, we also see the fallen nature of humanity. We see Peter. Just a few hours before, Peter vowed to lay down his own life for Jesus. But when confronted by hostile onlookers and accused of being a disciple of Jesus, Peter denied even knowing him. We see Judas. Judas was a follower of Jesus and claimed to be his friend. But then Judas was offered money to betray Jesus.
We also see the religious leaders of Israel who had been charged with the duty of revealing God's presence to his people. But these leaders were afraid of what would happen to their lives if the political leaders of Rome felt threatened by Jesus. Therefore out of fear, they chose to judge and condemn Jesus.
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When we hear this story, we often judge these people. But actually we are like them. Our lives are driven by fear, and as we let fear dominate, we too help to nail Jesus to the cross.
Not that we intend to do this. We want to follow God. We intend to obey his commands but then life hits - anxiety, stress, insecurity, financial problems, family conflict and work struggles. We fail to trust God.
This is why we stand at the cross. At the cross, Jesus' obedience is revealed. He encountered all the struggles and fears we do but he obeyed. In the face of certain death he trusted in his father.
In the cross, our failures meet Christ's obedience. Through God's grace, Jesus accomplishes what we cannot. But that is not the end of the story. We are invited to join him on the cross. We are not called to remain passive observers of the passion. We are invited to join in his death.
More than once Jesus calls his disciples to take up their cross and follow him. We are called to die to fear, to die to selfishness, to die to all that separates us from God and from each other. We can't do it alone. But with Christ beside us, we can.