Journeying through the Cross

Journeying through the Cross

The journey through Lent has been described as “walking with Jesus to the cross.” It’s a pretty good description of what Lent is all about.

In the 40 days of Lent we re-create the journey of those first disciples with Jesus. The journey begins the moment Jesus predicts his suffering and “sets his face toward Jerusalem” (Luke 9:22, 51), calling on his disciples to “deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” in order to find true life (9:23-25). This journey of self-denial and self-discovery, of cross-bearing and love-formation, ends at Jesus’ cross, as Jesus enacts the very faith, hope, and love he has been teaching his disciples (23:26-49).

Now, though, as we approach the end of our journey, the world behind us, the cross before us, we begin to see the resurrection on the other side. We recognize that Easter Sunday stands just beyond Good Friday. Those hopeful words of Jesus—that after his rejection and suffering and death he will “on the third day be raised” (Luke 9:22)—come more readily to mind, here at the end of Holy Week.

And so we discover that this has not so much been a journey with Jesus to the cross, but through the cross.

The goal has never been death. The goal has always been life—but it’s a life through death. It’s not a life without death. It’s not a life despite death. It’s a life through death, a journey through the cross into resurrection.

This, then, is what true resurrection hope is all about. It’s a realistic hope, recognizing that even in the midst of life we are in death. Resurrection hope takes seriously all the deaths we experience in life, knowing that our God is the God who raised Jesus from the dead.

As individuals, as families, as congregations, as a regional and nationwide church, we are well aware of the reality of death in all its forms. Physical death, of course, as we grieve the losses of those we love, the loss of their presence in our lives. But other deaths as well, other losses we experience, grieving broken relationships, broken fellowship, broken trust, broken dreams, and more.

May we be assured this Easter that Jesus is walking with us through all these deaths, and that through these deaths there is life on the other side, a life made even more meaningful because of the journey through the cross we’ve been on with Jesus.

Michael Pahl
Easter 2023