Station 2: Christ Carries His Cross
The world is a heavy burden, and surely her sins are even heavier. As I think today about the stations of the cross and what they mean for my life, I’m waiting on God at the second station. I’m waiting on God at that place where He bears His burden, and where I, following in His footsteps bear mine. Jesus faces this terrible burden, but knows that the Father is with Him, knows that God’s faithfulness to Him will be made perfect in and through this action.
I too face a terrible burden, a heavy cross. The weight of my own sinfulness is all I have to overcome, and I’m given this task daily. I am granted the opportunity to grow in righteousness, and make a habit of goodness, and yet, so often I fail. Jesus said that if He would be lifted up he would draw all humanity to Himself (Jn. 12.32).
This being lifted up is a manifold lifting, Jesus expressly means the cross and the ascension, since in John’s theology Jesus knows before the crucifixion about his ascension and departure whereas the synoptics do not emphasize this as much. Jesus means to say He is the healer of our affliction, going back to the story where Moses crafted a serpent in order to heal the people of their affliction by looking on the serpent. So too, God has crafted an image for us to look upon, a terrible image, a broken image, a holy image. God has crafted for us salvation in a body, in the very flesh of Jesus. When we participate in that flesh, when we eat of it, and drink of his blood there is life in us. He is the bread come down from heaven, He is the One in Whom is Life. His suffering is our sustenance, his very body, remains with us, and nourishes us.
The world still has Jesus on trial, and it has thrust upon the churches the burden of infallible perfection. Every generation demands a sign, a work from heaven to prove that we are the Church of the Living God. Yet the most express thing we can do is carry upon ourselves the weight of glory, the burden of love, the heavy cross.
I often worry about my own sins, and my own salvation, i often worry that I’m not going about my life the right way, and this is the wrong focus entirely. The best thing to do when faced with trial is to strip myself of all my rights to certainty, strip myself of all my rights entirely, and submit myself to the painful agony of Christ’s sufferings. If I am to be made holy, I can only do so bearing the burdens of my neighbors. I can only do so being a vessel of redemption by having my heart tested, my faith tried, and my uncertainties burned in the acts of service I seek to excel in(II Cor. 8.7).
My mind often thinks that suffering should be shared equally, or that there should be none at all. What I’ve come to realize is that, in God having called me, He has called me to my death, that others might have life. In calling me, God has called me alongside the suffering Jesus, standing in behalf of the world in prayer. He has called me with all the saints to make petition before God, and He has anointed my sufferings in Him to be available to all the powers of redemption that the Spirit of Life brings.
Give me my sufferings, cast on me this heavy cross, lay your guilt on me, I desire to suffer in earnest. I will answer for you and for many, we are priests after all. We are that royal priesthood which mediates God to the world, and in suffering we bring that presence in a very tangible form. Surely there is room for celebration, but the glorified Christ is the One Who was Crucified, and the Crucified Christ is the only one who was raised from the tomb.
We as the church bear a heavy cross, but let us pray:
If we would participate in heaven, we must bear the weight of glory, and we know by the life of Your Son, O Father, that this glory is manifest first in crucifixion, then and only then resurrection. Jesus, don’t take me with you, keep me here. Don’t let me escape the necessary suffering of the gospel, rather let me be faithful. Do not take me out of the world, or away from the suffering of my neighbors, rather send me into the midst of agony, to stand in broken solidarity. Don’t take me to heaven, because that’s a cheap escape for the disillusioned. Rather, let me be a manifestation of your heaven upon the earth. Let your kingdom embody itself in me, and your sacred heart move mine to mercy, justice, and sorrow. Let your joybe made full in the marks on my body, and my joy be made full in sharing your own. Let us together bear the weight of glory, and rejoice in the coming already present kingdom taking form among us. Spirit, empower comfort and guide me to turn these words into action, and bear the heavy cross. Amen.