We are an Easter people, a people who celebrate resurrection life. It’s in our name for goodness sake: Resurrection Church. Yet, I wonder sometimes if we are too quick in our racing to the empty tomb, too glib about our Easter Hallelujahs and hence perhaps a bit too cavalier about the terrible price Jesus paid. In the words of Alicia Britt Chole, “We like to speed read through the darkest day because the joy of resurrection is only a few verse away. But if we slow down there is much to learn.” And so I am grateful for today for the chance to linger at the cross to enter into the fellowship of His sufferings and perhaps understand in a greater way the power of the resurrection. Today I am following Dallas Willard’s advice. I am “ruthlessly eliminating hurry” and allowing myself to really attend to Jesus and His words.
I am grateful to hear His final words simple and profound. Words like these: Woman, behold your Son; Son behold your mother. In extremis, in His great agony, Jesus is still mindful of others—still full of compassion and desirous to fulfill all His responsibilities. He is not so “heavenly minded that He is no earthly good.” Jesus is not so focused on the” joy set before Him” that He forgets those entrusted to Him. Later the apostle James would write that true religion consists of taking care of the widow and the orphan and with His last few moments Jesus shows us true religion. He has promised His followers He will not leave them as orphans and now He cares for the widow, His mother.
I confess that in my own suffering I am apt to isolate, to become less than compassionate, to focus on me and not on cross-born initiative of true religion. I am given to self-pity which by its very nature often keeps me from being concerned for the well-being of others. Today as I gaze at the wondrous cross I am asking Jesus to empower me to change. That is the power of the cross and of the resurrection; to change us to become more like Him. That’s the goal, right? Our goal is Jesus, to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him, to become more like Him.
“Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother.” This word of Jesus from the cross is one of two directed to a particular person. A very particular person, a man uniquely equipped for the responsibility entrusted to him. I am struck by Pastor Leif Heitland’s question, a question that arose as he mused on these words from the cross. “Can Jesus trust you with what is most precious to him?” Well, Church, He has entrusted us with what is most precious to Him. "Go therefore and make disciples…" and "Love one another as I have loved you" are not so very different from this revelation from the cross.
We, like John, must recognize that we are uniquely equipped for this task of caring for those who are precious to Jesus. John calls himself the beloved disciple and it is this revelation of his own belovedness, his reveling in the love of the Savior, his intimacy with this Jesus that makes him the man for the job.
So today look at the cross, remember, see, experience how much He loves you and know that He trusts you with what is most precious to Him.