For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. – Matthew 16:25 (ESV)
This past Sunday was Palm Sunday, marking the beginning of Holy Week. It was, without a doubt, a day of triumphal glory. Jesus rode into Jerusalem, as its long-awaited king, to great fanfare. There were great crowds shouting His name, calling out praise to God for sending them a Savior, waving branches they’d torn off of trees and laying their cloaks on the road ahead of Him. It was an incredible scene, and one I’m sure most of us would want to take in as long as possible.
But for Jesus, that kind of glory was short-lived. He went from the scene of the triumphal entry to the temple and immediately started pushing political and religious buttons, calling out corruption, throwing over the tables of the moneychangers and waving a whip of cords around at the power brokers of His world.
Palm Sunday, it turns out, was just a short stop on the way to the day we remember today–Good Friday.
I’ve been thinking about how tempting it must have been for Jesus just to skip all that confrontation and stay in the moment of the triumphal entry. Maybe, had He let the crowd decide for Him, there could have been a way to avoid the cross.
But Jesus didn’t choose the easy way: the glory, the preservation of his own life and the power. The One who told his followers they’d have to carry a cross to be His disciples chose to carry one first. And as absurd as all that sounds (Why would anyone willingly choose a cross when throngs of people are declaring him king?!), Jesus understood something that is as profoundly true today as it was that first Holy Week:
The way to the abundant life of God goes through the cross.
I desperately want to explain that sentence. I want to go on and on about what it means and the implications that it has for us in every area of life here and on into eternity.
But an abundance of words seem out of place on Good Friday. The cross is enough. So instead, I’d like simply to invite you to bring that sentence, the reminder of Jesus on the cross, along with the Scripture above, and your life as it is today, before the God who gave up heaven, and then life itself, to give you the opportunity to be alive.
Would you take a few moments today and prayerfully reflect on these things? And as you do, may the Lord who made the way to life through the cross, show you the way as well.