Journey with us, O holy God, as we make our way to the cross. Sharpen our focus, that our attention may center more on you than ourselves. Lead us through the shadows of darkness and prepare our hearts, that we might be a people of prayer, ready to perceive and respond to your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. In his name we pray. Amen.
~The Worship Sourcebook
We are making a journey right now. Each in our own way, but have you ever thought about Jesus’ journey to the cross? I came across this as I was doing some Lent reading. I believe it is from Max Lucado…
Jesus died…on purpose.
No surprise. No hesitation. No faltering.
You can tell a lot about a person by the way he dies. And the way Jesus marched to his death leaves no doubt: he had come to earth for this moment.
Read the words of Peter. “Jesus was given to you, and with the help of those who don’t know the law, you put him to death by nailing him to a cross. But this was God’s plan which he had made long ago; he knew all this would happen.” (Acts 2:23)
No, the journey to the cross didn’t begin in Jericho. It didn’t begin in Galilee. It didn’t begin in Nazareth. It didn’t even begin in Bethlehem.
The journey to the cross began long before. As the echo of the crunching of the fruit was still sounding in the garden, Jesus was leaving for Calvary.
Thus began Jesus’ journey to the cross, the fulfillment of God’s plan.
Our own daily journey can at times be long and trying. Sometimes we find ourselves wandering off the path that God has directed. Even today as we have recommitted ourselves to drawing closer to the Lord, to the observation Lent, we find our hearts and mind are prone to wander.
“Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. (Joel 2:13, NLT)
In the first part of this verse the prophet Joel warned Israel to “tear your heart, not your clothing” (Joel 2:13). One commentator summarizes the point like this: “What was needed was not ritual alone, but the active involvement of the individual in making a radical change within the heart and in seeking a new direction for one’s life. What was demanded was a turning from sin and at the same time a turning to God. For the prophets, such a turning or conversion was not just simply a change within a person; it was openly manifested in justice, kindness, and humility.”
This is a tall order as ritual is much easier accomplished than heart-involvement. I know the words, I know how I am supposed to act. I can do this in my sleep. This is compartmentalized ritual. But what would happen if we allowed our head knowledge of God and what he has done for us to seep out and penetrate our entire being. From head…to heart.
This season, regardless of your current state, no matter how many times or how far you have wandered, you must “Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” After all, Lent is not about your faithfulness, but rather about the faithfulness of Jesus on your behalf. Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s plan. Today He is waiting patiently for you.
Saved by His plan, His grace…this is why Jesus journeyed to the cross.