Church Windows – Taking Up our Daily Cross this Lent!
Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
I love Luke’s version of this saying of Jesus. It’s the same as Mathew and Mark’s except for the addition of one word, daily. It’s a reminder that we all have crosses to bear every day. That carrying a cross isn’t a one time and done part of our life. Some say this daily cross refers to a burden they carry, a strained relationship, difficult job, or a chronic, debilitating illness or the illness of a loved one. Whatever they are, they are ours to carry. But was this what Jesus meant two thousand years ago?
The daily cross Luke was referring to could be the reminder that doing what is right, following our faith despite opposition, would result in our death. This certainly was the case for the early Christian community that Luke was writing for.
Did Jesus actually use these words? Did he know how he was to die? That it would be on a cross? And if he did, would the people he was talking to understand what he was talking about when he told them they had to take up their cross? It would be tantamount to saying we must take up our electric chair daily, pick up not only the means of our death, but the means of a convicted criminal’s death. How many of us would be willing to become a Christian if we thought it meant a death sentence? And a terrible, painful death at that!
Chances are if Jesus did use these words, his disciples only understood them in retrospect, after his death. Like so many of Jesus’ sayings, his disciples found it difficult to understand him. Only after his death and the coming of the spirit did they reflect on all that Jesus had said and it finally started to make sense. And so, we, in retrospect, looking back thousands of years, continue to struggle to know what Jesus meant by these words.
Jesus carried the instrument of his death on his back for but a single day, but we have burdens that are ours to bear that we have to pick up each day. Jesus carrying his cross is a reminder that faith doesn’t come easy, nor is it cheap. It will cost us our whole life.
In this stained-glass window, we see Jesus struggling with the weight of the cross. It is a terrible burden, weighing him down, but we also see Simon of Cyrene in blue, placing his hand on the cross to help Jesus while others look on. It’s reminder that no matter how heavy our burdens may be, we aren’t left to carry them alone. There are others at our side, walking along side us and willing to lend a hand. (For a reflection on Simon of Cyrene and what it means to pick up your cross, click here.)
This Lent, as we reflect on the burden of the cross, we know that we are not left alone to carry our burdens. Jesus is walking with us, giving us a hand.
What does Jesus’ saying. “You must take up your cross daily,” mean to you? What is your daily cross? How has that changed over the years? What remains the same? Is Jesus calling you to follow him? What sacrifices will that entail?
This post is part of a series of reflections on St. John’s church windows. Click here to follow blog and receive a free copy of Dancing on a High Wire. click here to follow blog