When I Come to the Cross – Images of Sorrow and Joy
Scholars have suggested two details about the cross that I have found intriguing. One has to do with where the cross might have been placed. Some suggest it was not erected at the top of Golgotha but at the base. This is in keeping with crucifixions taking place in busy thoroughfares, but it puts the cross too close to an unconcerned, gawking public for my comfort. It puts it, for that matter, too close to me.
The second detail some scholars suggest is that Jesus might have been hung only a few feet above the ground. The imagery of “high and lifted up” is still appropriate, but Jesus might not have been nearly as high as I’ve always imagined, not nearly high enough, again, for my comfort.
No, these two suppositions make Jesus and all his suffering and shame much too close. But once I assimilated these propositions, I began to imagine a scenario that has blessed me. (Such imagining is the writer in me, I guess.) Actually, it is more an image than a scene, and I think of it most often when we partake of the Lord’s Supper.
I come to the foot of the cross and embrace the bloody body of Jesus. I stand there in that embrace, becoming bloody myself in the process, not saying anything, for speaking would be impossible. I just come, loving him and thanking him.
When this image is before me, I sometimes do more than wipe away tears. I recall the commitments Jesus made to God and man when he chose the cross—the commitment to do God’s will, to trust him, to love and care for others, to suffer when necessary, and to finish the task of redeeming us.
Such incredible commitments. Love compels me to make such commitments, or to try very hard to make them. Hope compels me as well—the hope of a second image.
I am standing on the hillside watching our victorious risen Lord ascend to his Father, knowing full well he will return for us. And when he does, shame and suffering and sorrow will be replaced with honor and glory and ecstasy. When I bring this image to mind, I can’t wipe the smile off my face.
“Do this,” Jesus said, “in remembrance of me.”
When you partake today, remember images of incomparable sorrow and joy.
Jackina Stark is an author and retired English professor from Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri. Currently she lives in Branson, Missouri. Read another Communion meditation by her each Friday in September at this website.