“So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull…Here they crucified him, and with him two others – one on each side and Jesus in the middle…Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the mother of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene.” (John 19:16-18, 25)
John 19 exposes that different people deal with Jesus in vastly different ways. In John we see the religious/political elite of Judaism enacting pure hatred of Jesus. He threatened their reign and rule and their way of life. He was despised by those who could not see His divinity.
Then we have Pilate. Pilate did not believe Jesus deserved death, but eventually went along with the crowd. He was not sure how to defend Jesus, likely not sure what he believed about Him. Pilate is the man in the middle. Jesus seems just fine, but maybe isn’t worth all the trouble.
Finally we have the true followers, the two Mary’s and the “disciple whom He loved.” (Verse 26) They are quiet, watching, following. They had believed what Jesus taught and had seen the miracles He had performed. They had followed Him and loved Him. What did they know? Did they know what He was doing? Did Mary understand? Whatever their internal turmoil, whatever fear or hopelessness, they did not abandon Him in His greatest moments of pain. Their role in this moment seems small. They are aside, unpopular now, about to face a brutal loneliness without Jesus in their midst. Yet, they have not looked away. They have faced the dark day of Christ, loving Him.
Three approaches to Yeshua. We see these today. From those who hate Scripture and the Lord, to those who are apathetic and then those who believe and follow, even if the path is darkened to them.
We can all agree that openly hating Christ remains fairly rare on Sunday mornings. But what about the other approaches? Is any level of apathy about Yeshua allowable?
Is it even possible to wash our hands of Christ? Is there a middle ground?
Is it possible to love Christ and not be present for the difficulty, not face the fear, not engage with the horror of our sin and the egregious requirements of His death?
And once we have faced these difficult truths, are we then ready to hide them, to lie about them, to twist them to fit our own wishes or to wash our hands of them?
John 19 elaborates on the most famous death in all of history and perhaps, the most horrific. That these things happened on our behalf should only embolden us on His behalf.
I must ask myself, what does it mean to take up my cross? Do I love my savior? If so, am I willing to suffer with Him? Do I see the suffering and injustice in the realms of death that Yeshua defeated? Do I ignore the bitter cages of darkness, or address them with the Kingdom always in my view?
Do I address them first in myself? Can I get my own house in order?
These questions are difficult but I cannot help believing that they are the ultimate questions that will lead to the sort of repentance that could spark revival in my heart and mind. The light of the true follower of Christ is needed today as much as ever. Salt and light are salty and illuminating because they behave differently than the objects around them. They are unique, special, holy (set apart).
In the story of Yeshua’s death, am I the true follower or do I fear what that will make me in the story?
Right now I ask forgiveness for any area where I have chosen my own desires over the call of Christ. “Lord, come and renew my Spirit. Create in me a clean heart and give me the love, power, and soundness of mind to live out the destiny You have for me. Today, search my heart to root out anything that would dampen Your light or be tasteless when I need to be flavorful. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ or its power to change lives. My desire is to walk with You, Jesus, wherever You lead.”
Get to a place where you can focus and read the daily Scripture passage several times. From the passage of Scripture you read, highlight one or two verses that stick out. Write them down, and even consider rewriting the verse(s) in your own words.
Make some basic observations about the scripture you just read by asking these questions:
- Why was this written?
- To whom was it originally written?
- What is the author trying to communicate?
- What does the Scripture passage teach me about God and humanity?
After taking some time explaining the highlighted scriptures, begin to think about how they apply to your life. Ask yourself these questions and spend some time writing down your thoughts:
- What do these verses mean today?
- What does this verse(s) mean for my life?
- How does this verse challenge my thinking and actions?
- What changes do I need to make in my life as a result of this passage of Scripture?
Your response to the passage may take on many forms. You may write a call to action. You may describe how you will be different because of what God has said to you through the Bible verses. You may indicate what you are going to do because of what you learned. You may respond by writing out a prayer to God. For example, you may ask God to help you to be more loving, or to give you a desire to be more generous in your giving. Keep in mind that this is your response to what you have just read.