“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23 NIV
The last few weeks have been full of transformation. As Spring has come to DC, I’ve watched the grounds around our house transform; the barren, brown plants and flowers transforming into greens, yellows, and reds. As I sit here writing this the sky outside is transforming from the blues and whites of a sunny afternoon into a dark and grey evening as a storm approaches.
Transformation is at the heart of Lent. It is a time that has often been painted as being about giving something up or losing something from our lives for a period of time. But in truth, it is a time that is really best spent if we emerge at the end of it changed by the experience, and, God willing, living a life a bit closer to Him.
Transformation is something that Jesus has a lot of experience with. He transformed so many things, but the one that I have on my mind today is how through his last act on this Earth, He transformed the very nature of the cross.
“In antiquity crucifixion was considered one of the most brutal and shameful modes of death… The Romans perfected crucifixion for 500 years until it was abolished by Constantine I in the 4th century AD. Crucifixion in Roman times was applied mostly to slaves, disgraced soldiers, Christians and foreigners.” (From the National Library of Medicine)
He made such a powerful sacrifice for us that he transformed the meaning of the cross from a method of torture, something that represented the most horrible, degrading, shameful death that the Romans could think of, and turned it into something that has inspired generations of people. I have a former torture device in my living room, and it brings me tremendous joy.
How do we honor this transformation that He so selflessly gave to us? We live our lives “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)