This morning as I read my Daily Bible Passage email, my eyes and heart were drawn to a quote by Pope Francis.
“It is not easy to follow Jesus closely, because the path he chooses is the way of the Cross.”
Wow, that is a hard truth to digest. How many times do we listen to those who preach the “speak into existence” gospel which leads us to believe that if we have enough faith, if we only pray correctly, our lives will be wonderful, and peaceful, because all of our prayers will be ansered exactly as we request? Some of the preachers portray huge smiles, as they live their totally “blessed” lives… letting us see the joy the Lord has instilled in their lives, as if suffering and strive have no place at all in their lives anymore.
So we pray, and “speak our wants and needs into existence”, faithfully live our lives for Jesus….and then can not explain why financial burdens are not lifted, physical healings do not occur, addictions remain, wars continue, and death touches our families and friends. We are almost lead to believe that only good things will happen in our lives if we are true believers.
That is when Satan steps in, either through our own thoughts and doubts, or through non-believers who scoff at us and ask “Where is your God now?”. How would you answer that question?
Being that today is Good Friday, I am reminded of the intense suffering that Jesus endured in our place. He didn’t just somehow end up on the cross, dying an easy death for our sins.
No, the Way of the Cross that the Father chose for Him was through unimaginable suffering. He was tortured, ridiculed, spat upon, blasphemed, and mocked. All of this against an innocent man…against our Lord. At Gethsemane, when He was praying to the Father, he agonized over what was about to transpire. He understood the Cross that was chosen for Him, in a way that we could never comprehend. He was afraid.
And yet the prayer that he prayed was:
My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.
When Jesus is hanging on the Cross, His last words are,
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
When I think of Jesus talking and pleading with His Father, I realize that He is not TELLING what He wants. He asks that the cup be taken away if possible, however, He goes on to add the most important part…not as I will, but as You will. Later on, that thought is reiterated with the words “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.”
Once we open our hearts and say “yes” to Jesus, and to His saving grace, He enters our souls and we are united with Him. We are one with Jesus. Are we willing to be one with His suffering and pain through the crosses we are blessed with? Yes, I said blessed with. When we offer our daily crosses to our Lord, those crosses lead us closer to Him and become our biggest blessings.
When I started to read about the lives of the Saints, one thing kept jumping out at me. The closer the Saints were united with Jesus, the more they offered their sufferings and hardships to Him. They were willing to trust the Father with their very lives. They prayed and asked the Lord for their wants and needs, however, always acknowledged that the will of God prevail, not their own. They were willing to suffer on this earth, and unite that suffering with that of Jesus, committing their lives and spirits into the hands of the Father.
Today, on Good Friday, we must ask ourselves which path we will choose. Are we willing to accept our lives, with all its hardships, and offer it as a gift to Jesus? Are we willing to offer our day to day struggles in reparation for our own sins and those of the whole world?
Are we willing to trust completely, no matter what is happening in the physical world?
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. Mark 14:32-39