Today: Going To The Place Of Painful, Shameful Execution: a Holy Week reflection and prayer guide to prepare our hearts and minds for Easter. Curated by The Park Forum.
The LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron and his sons: ‘These are the regulations for the sin offering: The sin offering is to be slaughtered before the LORD in the place the burnt offering is slaughtered; it is most holy.”
How Long, O Lord (an excerpt) | by Don Carson
Suffering the opprobrium of the world is bound up with what it means to be a Christian. Perhaps the most famous passage in this connection is Mark 8.34–38: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
“To take up one’s cross” does not mean to put up with some relatively minor irritant, like a crabby in-law or a runny nose. Crucifixion was the form of execution reserved for the most despised and evil of criminals.
After sentence was passed, the victim was scourged with the most severe of the three Roman levels of beating (the verberatio), and then the cross-member was lashed to his arms and shoulders so that he could carry it out to the place of execution. There the cross-member was fastened to the upright member of the cross, already sunk in the ground. Thus, for anyone to “take up their cross” was to go to the place of painful, shameful execution.
To use that expression in a metaphorical sense is not to strip it of its force. Jesus means that his followers must die to self-interest, declare themselves dead to the glories and attractions of this world, and be prepared for suffering, even the most ignominious suffering. And in this, we are doing no more than following Jesus, for that is the way he went—without the advantage of hiding behind metaphorical language.
Second, the alternative is to forfeit one’s soul. It is to gain the approval of the “world” and Jesus’ disapproval. The confrontation between, on the one hand, Jesus and his kingdom, and, on the other, the world he has come to redeem, is so total that one necessarily sides with one or the other.
The irony is that those who “lose” their lives by this “crucifixion” thereby find their lives. They discover what they had always denied before: they belong to God by creation, and they can never find themselves, never be fulfilled, never realize their potential, unless they abandon self-interest and abandon themselves to God. But as long as that takes place in this rebellious and self-focused world, suffering and opposition are inevitable.
Lenten Evening Prayer: The Daily Examen
1. Opening prayer of invitation: become aware of God’s presence (2 minutes).
2. Review the day with gratitude (3 minutes).
3. Pay attention to your emotions (3 minutes).
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it (5 minutes).
5. Closing prayer: look toward tomorrow (2 minutes).
Holy Week Reflections
Part 5 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org