Did They Speak?
It occurred to me today that as Jesus was walking the path up toward Golgotha with the cross on his back, that he looked out toward the multitudes gathered on the way with tears and compassion in his eyes. It occurred to me that although he had plenty of reason to be bitter and hard-hearted, he was not.
While people spat on him, he did not return in kind. I imagined him saying, “I love you, Levi.” He’d then take a few staggering steps, and then look up and speak to other individuals in the crowd. “I love you, Simone.” “I love you, Mary.” I can imagine that he called people by name. I can imagine his tears were not just due to the physical pain he endured, but also because of his tremendous love for mankind, his purpose, his task, and because he was gravely misunderstood.
I wonder what his disciples said to him on that day. Did they associate with him at all? Did they stay back, out of fear of being recognized as one of his followers? Did they speak any words of kindness, or affirmation? Did they speak whatsoever?
On the most difficult day of his earthly life (as I presume it was), he was abandoned. Did he seek any words of affirmation from those who claimed to be devoted to him?
Was his spirit, his heart, craving to hear words of love or glimpses of kindness from those who had loved him? And even if he did not hear it, did he respond with unkindness, a grudge, or bitterness toward them because of their utter silence?
No. His response? The cross. His response was the cross. A humiliating, painful death. His response? Love. Simply, love. I can imagine him thinking, “I will do for you what you cannot do for yourself. Because I love you, and want to be with you. I desire you to have abundant, eternal life, joy unceasing, love overflowing, peace unending.”
I think of myself. I think of how I don’t get the affirmation I think I should have, or that I think I need, and how down I can feel about it. It’s not that I’m seeking the world’s affirmation. No, that’s not it. I guess it’s more like the need to be appreciated. Or the need to sometimes hear words of affirmation– like, “you did a good job.”
Well, it’s not forthcoming words of affirmation are not so forthcoming in my life. And, maybe when I do hear it, I don’t appreciate it enough. I have to fight against the lack of affirmation wearing me down, because the enemy will jump on it and try to convince me I really am worthless, or that I’m unappreciated. Of course, I know that it is not true. But at times, I have to guard my heart against those attacks.
And I also have to look at the cross. Looking at the cross is really the antidote. I see Jesus, on the cross, and realize that Jesus didn’t get any affirmation, either. The one who probably deserved it the most, got it the least. Isn’t that mind-boggling? Just how many people really affirmed Jesus for who he was, and what he was and what he was all about? He was probably the most misunderstood person that ever lived on this planet!! And I think I have problems? And we think we have problems?
Today our society affirms so much that is superficial, vulgar and untrue. What a world we live in. The enemy is raging all over the land, spreading lies.
The antidote to so much we suffer in life can be found in the cross. I realize that. Often, I know it in my head, but not in my heart.
Dear God, help me always to see the cross before me! Amen.