"Why did Jesus have to carry that dumb ol' cross anyway?!" exclaimed our newly arrived at five years old son last night, as he looked at the candle-lined path of our table-top Lenten wreath.
We had just sat down to dinner, and he was already feeling a bit ornery, since his sister had gotten to open her birthday presents just beforehand.
But we heard the real question behind his seemingly impertinent one: Why didn't Jesus just tell all those people to get lost? Or better yet, why didn't He just do away with everyone who was opposing Him? In a little boy's black-and-white world where the heroes always triumph and the bad guys are always vanquished, it makes no sense that a perfect and all-powerful Jesus would have to endure suffering and death.
So often, when I'm faced with an overwhelming situation in my life, I want the easy way out. I want Jesus to fix it for me. When my eyes aren't on Jesus, I don't remember about beauty for ashes. I don't remember about His glory in my weakness.
I just want Him to make it better, and by better, I mean easy for me.
As I sat down at the table in the nap time quiet today, his question echoed again in my mind: Why did Jesus have to carry that dumb ol' cross anyway?
To my surprise, tears sprung up in my eyes as I remembered: He carried that dumb ol' cross for me. For you. For all of us.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried -- our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him -- our sins!
He took the punishment, and that has made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.
We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him.
Jesus didn't have to carry that dumb ol' cross.
He chose to.
The contemporary Christian church has brushed Lent aside, and most western Christians don't observe Lent at all.
I think we're missing out if we forget. Just as we take communion to remember Jesus' precious gift to us, the Lenten season is a gift.
A gift of remembrance.
A gift so that we might not forget the glorious love and beauty of that wonderful cross.