Wednesday, April 7, 2021

How Did Jesus Let Go of His Cross?

"Christ Ascending from the Cross"
by sculptor Huberto Maestas.

I would have been angry. And exhausted. And resentful, bitter, unforgiving. And not just of those who tortured me verbally and physically, spitting in my face, nailing me to that cross, but all those who looked away, pretending it wasn’t happening or worse, that it wasn’t important, and fearful of a similar fate if they defended me. 

Those fair-weather multitudes I fed with spiritual truths and a little boy’s lunch: where were they? Those I healed with prayer and touch? Those I made glad with the egalitarian promises and parables of the kingdom of God among us? 

And my disciples, cowering in hiding! Betrayed, denied, abandoned by those dearest to me, who professed to “love” me. Worse yet, they never seemed to really “get” me, never seemed to understand what I was about, never fully bought into my passion for the world and my compassion for all the little ones in this world. 

No wonder I felt God-forsaken. 

If it weren’t for the women who followed me and that closeted disciple Nicodemus, I would still be up on that cross, to be devoured by the birds of the air and the beasts of the field as my muscles stretched to the breaking point in the heat of the sun, my lungs gasping for air. 

Now, thank God, I can rest in peace. The tomb is cool and dark, the strips of cloth hugging my wounds, the cold stone holding me, my mind and heart at rest, at rest in God. Will anything come of my sacrifice? The way I lived my life for others? The insights the Spirit spoke through my words and my ways? God only knows. 

I’m glad to be away from all the noise and chaos outside. I never want to go back there again. Though, there were moments of tranquility and comfort—going up on a mountain to pray alone with God, Mary anointing my feet with a fragrant oil, the beloved disciple cuddling on my lap during our last meal. I feel sorrow for them, but I can no longer help them. I can’t get out of here; this is it. 

But then to my surprise, God calls me into action again. I rise to the occasion. Each one who witnesses this resurrection is of two minds*, belief and doubt, from the first to the last. Belief will give them hope; doubt will cause despair. But this is how I let go of my cross: I choose to believe.


* Matthew’s description of witnesses to the resurrection that some believed while others doubted is better translated that each witness was of two minds. The word used literally means “standing in two places.” That is comforting. 

Thanks to Rev. Ashley Calhoun for today’s photo by Richard Tohline of “Christ Ascending from the Cross” by sculptor Huberto Maestas located at St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church in Castlerock, Colorado.

FYI-I considered retiring from my blog on its tenth anniversary in February but didn’t want to “abandon” readers during the pandemic! My brother suggested I run “the best of” posts, and I decided to run past posts that still speak to current issues. This will also give me the opportunity to write a new post occasionally. Thanks for your continued support! Today’s post is from April 8, 2015. 

Copyright © 2015 by Chris R. Glaser. Permission granted for non-profit use with attribution of author and blogsite. Other rights reserved. 

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  1. Hi Chris,
    The Ignatian way of imagining yourself in the scripture story is such a powerful way to pray. I so appreciated your rendering of Jesus through the suffering and dying on the cross. It really can make you stop in your tracks, if you let it.

    Thank you,

    1. Thanks, Mary! Thanks too for reminding us of the role of imagination in prayer and the spiritual life.