Carrying the cross himself, he set out. (John 19:17)
Where do you see yourself, as Jesus walks the rough path to the hill of Golgotha? Are you a bystander, waiting for the procession to pass so that you can be about your business? Are you a friend, hurrying behind, distraught but unable to desert him? Maybe you're a soldier, driving him before you.
No matter what perspective you view in the story, Jesus is always at the center, orchestrating each action. At no point in John's Gospel is Jesus helpless or bewildered. He shows nothing but steadfast purposefulness. At his word, a whole contingent of soldiers falls back (John 18:6). Standing before Pilate, he holds fast, while the procurator becomes increasingly anxious and afraid (19:8). He manfully takes up his cross and marches to his fate (19:17). And at what appears to be his lowest point, Jesus announces calmly and definitively, "It is finished" and hands over his spirit to the Father (19:30). Far from humiliating defeat, this his his moment of victory!
As you ponder the story of the Passion today, let it fill you will peace and confidence in your salvation. Try to sense Jesus' willingness, his determination, his calm perseverance. Your life is safe in his nail scarred hands; your soul is secure in his pierced heart.
So instead of pushing quickly through the gloominess of today with your heart set on the joy of Easter Sunday, slow down and tack stock. Try to experience Jesus' Passion more personally, looking for signs of his authority and his mastery of the situation. Walk with him. Listen to the words that he speaks, and hear the assuredness in them.
Then follow his example and offer yourself to God, confident that you belong to him. See how committed he is to you, and commit yourself to him just as deeply. Know that whatever "cross" you have, you can take it up with the same courage and authority Jesus showed. He is walking with you, strengthening you every step of the way.
"Thank you Jesus, for taking up the cross for me and for all of us. Lord, give me a share in your confidence, your courage, and your commitment."
Taken from "The Word Among Us" Lent booklet.