…then, when it becomes too heavy, ask someone to help you carry it.
In the past I’ve struggled to understand what Jesus meant in Luke 9:23 when He said, “…take up his cross daily…” I get the sharing in suffering with Jesus part, and the theology behind it, but I’m no longer content with just knowing the theology. I need to know the deeper, soul stirring intimacy of daily taking up my cross with Jesus. I’ve read The Ragamuffin Gospel and it’s helped me understand a little. I no longer believe it is all about suffering. I believe taking up the cross has so much more to do with grace, humility, hope, and love.
At my core, I believe community is necessary. Even imperative. Because of that, I feel confident that cross carrying is a gospel-centered community event. For some time, I did not have the scriptural grounds to support my belief. However, it made sense to me.
In meditating on the moment where Jesus carried His cross to Calvary, God paused my heart. When Jesus fell under the crushing weight of His cross, a man named Simon of Cyrene, lifted it and carried it with Him.
Jesus undoubtedly could have carried the cross for days, unabated. But there is something so profound happening here, that if missed, will cause us to struggle unnecessarily and significantly. What Jesus said in Luke 9:23, He explains and demonstrates in Luke 23:26 at the moment Simon carries His cross.
In their culture, it was disgraceful to carry a condemned man’s cross. Jesus would have known that. But, just as with everything else, Jesus turned what was known on its ear. God the Son could have carried His own cross. However, Jesus knew we were not capable of such a feat. So He carried His cross in the flesh, as a man. Jesus the man was broken and weak from exhaustion and blood loss. Jesus the man NEEDED Simon to carry His heavy burden with Him. In that moment, Jesus showed us communal cross bearing is the way for His followers. We are not made or called to carry our cross alone. Jesus is there. And He has provided His people. We pick up ours and other’s crosses. We do it together and we call it church and community and grace and love.
If Jesus expected us to carry our cross alone, He would have done the same. But He didn’t. And He does not expect us to go it alone. Jesus provided us with the accounting of His own need for help in carrying His cross. Now we have the confidence that our Savior knows and understands just how hard it can be to be alone. And even more so, He showed us the importance of community stepping up and in, to lighten our burden.
Whether you ask for help, or are Simon for another, rest assured that Jesus does not want us to allow others to suffer alone, or for you to go it alone.
“…when it becomes too heavy, ask someone to help you carry it.”