Monday, April 11, 2022

New Evangelizers Post: Embrace the Cross



I have a new article up at  

One of the most famous images of Our Lord is the one where He carries the cross up to Calvary. We have all seen this very common image of the the entire cross laid on Jesus’ shoulder as He labors under its weight.

From my studies of Roman crucifixions, this was not the normal way in which a cross was carried. Instead, the vertical part of the cross beam would already be present at the place of execution. The horizontal part of the cross beam would be tied to the condemned person’s outstretched arms and this is what was carried through the streets.

To be clear, I am not here to contradict our traditional images. I wasn’t there. But I want to unpack what this traditional image of the cross symbolizes.

In the movie The Passion of the Christ, the two men who were condemned with Jesus were tied to the horizontal part of the cross beam in the common manner. But with Jesus, He is not tied to the cross. Instead, the present Him the entire cross to carry. Jesus then places His arms around the cross and one of the condemned men shouts: “You fool! Why do you embrace the cross?”

And here is the key to understanding this image of our Lord. The others have the cross fastened to them as an inescapable torture.

Jesus embraces the cross freely.

Everything that happened on that first Good Friday happened because Jesus freely allowed it. As the Son of God, He had the power to end His suffering at any moment. He was not powerless as the other condemned men were. Jesus freely chose to pick up the cross. And the only way He could carry it is if He embraced it.

In this way, it gives us a model for our own lives. We too, must embrace the cross.

Now, I say this as the least stoic person that I know. I am a baby when it comes to pain. The slightest headache has me running for the Tylenol.

And it should be clear that pain for pain’s sake is not good. God is not pleased by the increase in our own personal suffering. There is nothing wrong with taking pain medication or treating our suffering in ethical ways.

But regardless, we do suffer. It is an unavoidable fact of life. But we can embrace our cross rather than run away from it.

Jesus embraces the cross. He embraces all of its pain and shame.

Do we do the same with our crosses?

You can read the whole article here.

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