in the midst of the celebration
So a man and his boys were out traveling for a religious festival. They were heading to the feast of unleavened bread and the Passover, when in the midst of the celebrations they came across a criminal that was being executed. He was dragging a cross (probably the “Cross” bar of the whole apparatus) and he was almost unrecognizable as a human. Beaten, bloody, robed, tired, and in pain, weak enough that he maybe fell, struggled at least. (There’s a reason Simon was conscripted to carry the cross.)
A man named Simon and his two sons, Alexander and Rufus had front row seats on the “way”, the “Path” that Jesus’ life was taking in his final moments. They had such a great vantage point (whether they liked it or not) that the father, Simon, was pressed into service carrying Jesus’ cross the rest of the way, along the path to the hill that Jesus was crucified upon. I assume that the boys followed along. Nonetheless, they walked the path that led to life. They potentially watched the whole thing unfold before their eyes. This was their afternoon at what should have been a celebration memorial week.
OUR MORBID SENSE OF VOYEURISM
What must it have been like, what kind of culture treats public executions like the local Fair? I don’t imagine it was too different than a hanging in the early days of America’s history. You read accounts of people packing lunches or traveling to town to see the spectacle. The more “civilized” our society gets, the more genteel it thinks it is and really our morbid sense of voyeurism is just hidden away and brought out for special occasions.
However, my point was that Simon and his boys walked the Path of Life,
that to Jesus was a path of death as well.
Now I’m reading the story of Mary and Mary and once again, they are traveling on “their way” to the tomb. Again the idea of traveling “on their way” suggests a path, a path or road up to Calvary, a path or trail, maybe a road, to the garden where Jesus was laid to rest: to the tomb. And so we see these characters making their life’s journey along a path.
What path are you on: the path to graduation, the path to success, or maybe the path to marriage? What path are you on? Does this path lead to life? At the end of the day, at the end of our lives, does the path we traveled lead us to life?
HE WALKED INTO THE BUTCHER SHOP INTENTIONALLY
Jesus traveled a path. He came to this earth with a purpose. He came to die. No one took his life, as a matter of fact he made it clear that his life was his to lay down and his to take up, and that he chose to lay it down voluntarily. John 10:17. He may have been murdered, like a lamb being led to slaughter, but he knew what was going on and walked into the butcher shop intentionally. There was a debt that needed to be paid and he was here to pay it.
There would be no stopping Jesus, no diverting his eyes from the prize, from the knowing that people would be set free from the clutches of death and the devil himself. They would be snatched from the very smoke of Hell and welcomed home, back to a relationship with Father.
RELIGION WOULD RAISE IT’S UGLY HEAD
Religion would raise it’s ugly head and try to tell them that they needed to earn this free grace that they received. That simply isn’t true. Jesus’ death on the cross is for the sins I have yet to commit, as well as the ones I have already committed. I cannot earn more of God, more of Jesus, more of the Holy Spirit, simply because there is nothing good about me. I can never deserve the favor or the love of God in Jesus. Ever! So we try to live up to what we have been given freely, but we must in turn hand it out freely. You must as well. This is the Path we have stepped onto as Christ followers.
“You have made known to me the path if life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
As I think about Easter, I am aware of this passage from Psalm 16. That God has made known to us the “Path of life”. Jesus said, “Anyone who would come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” There, that is the Path of Life; the path that leads home. The path that brings us back to the very presence of our Father.
For Jesus the Path of Life lead from his rightful place, his home, to our dirty place, earth and sin. Then the path lead him into relationships with you and I and people like us as he walked a dirt path to Calvary. The Path of Life leads to death on a cross. Death on a cross leads to entombment of our flesh. The resurrection of our dead lives leads to the mission of Christ. The mission of Christ leads home.
What path are you on and where is it eventually leading you?