The Cross Brings Our Freedom
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But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
- Isaiah 53:5
Years ago, as I was flipping through the TV channels, I landed on the History Channel. For the Lenten season, they were showing episodes regarding the historical evidence for Jesus’s life and death. This particular episode was about Roman crucifixion (capital punishment, in which the wrongdoer would be beaten, stripped of their clothes, and nailed to a crossbeam).
The episode talked about how unimaginable it was to die in such an excruciatingly painful way. Not only was Jesus dehydrated and hungry, He struggled to breathe. The position in which He was nailed to the cross required Him to lift up His body in order to inhale, meaning that every time He did this His back would rub against the cross, reopening all the fresh wounds He received from being beaten. This visual has been branded into my mind whenever I think about Jesus’s death. It helps me to think more about what His suffering was like in His last few hours on Earth. I can’t help but be grateful for what He did for me.
When we take up our own crosses, we don’t have to face the same brutal reality. For some of us who live in countries where there is no persecution for our faith, we don’t have to worry about dying for professing Christianity. We can all have a restored relationship with God the Father, which we acknowledge daily when we seek what God is calling us to do. The cross doesn’t have to incite fear, but reminds us of our freedom.
I’m not going to lie to you though. Bearing the cross still seems...heavy. The Christian life isn’t an easy one. There are still spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical struggles that come along with it. Becoming a Christian doesn’t allow you to opt out from experiencing hardship.
I’ve struggled with doubt in seasons of waiting, thinking God couldn’t possibly be hearing my constant begging for an unanswered prayer. There have also been times that I’ve been so frustrated with loving the difficult people around me that I wanted God to send someone else to love them instead. Even my battles with anxiety often tell me that I’m not good enough or that God’s promises are not meant for me.
But regardless of how hard it is, I’ve got good news for you! We are always being refined! Our pain and struggle are not meaningless to God. There is a rich inheritance for all of us in Heaven when we choose to bear our crosses. I’ve learned to trust God more as I search in my heart for the barriers that keep me from wanting to believe that He has good things planned for me. I’ve even developed a deeper understanding of God’s definition for love as I seek to love people well. There is so much more we can offer to the world and what God wants to offer to us when we bear our crosses.
1. What are moments when it is easy to bear the cross? What are moments when it is difficult?
2. How does knowing more about Jesus’s crucifixion redefine your purpose as a Christian?
3. How can you live empowered to do what God is calling you to do?
Father, thank You for a love that is redeeming. I can live whole and healed because of Jesus’s death on a cross. While I am called to bear my cross, I know that You do not forsake those who love You. Teach me to trust You in the pain and struggle, amen.
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