Titian, Carrying of the Cross, c. 1565
This is the fourth in our series reflecting on the Gospel accounts of Christ’s passion and death on a cross using the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary as our guide. We have looked at Christ’s agony in the garden of Gethsemane where he took on the sins of the world, His brutal scourging at the hands of the Roman guards and the crowning of thorns. Today we will look at the torturous journey to Golgotha as Christ carried His own cross to be used in His crucifixion.
Now it happened that as he was praying alone the disciples were with him; and he asked them, “Who do the people say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist; but others say, Eli′jah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen.” And he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” But he charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:18-23
The path to Christ is the way of the cross. Christ told His disciples that if anyone were to follow Him, they must first deny themselves and “take up his cross daily and follow me.” Did you know that your spouse is a daily “cross” that you are to bear with courage and fortitude? Married life is not easy; struggles are inevitable. When you join your sufferings with the sufferings of Christ, you are completing in your flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions (see Col 1:24). Daily, you must make a decision to be obedient to God, denying yourself for your spouse, picking up your cross for the good of your home and family.
So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Gol′gotha. John 19:17
After enduring a severe beating which ripped open His flesh and nearly killed Him, Jesus was forced to carry a rough, wooden cross over the cobblestone streets of Jerusalem. The terrain is hilly and Jesus had to negotiate a steep vertical climb on the journey. Already exhausted and in a state of near shock from the blood loss during the scourging, Jesus falls beneath the weight of the heavy cross, crashing onto the hard, cobblestones. Racked with pain, broken and beaten, His whole body bruised and swollen, Jesus laid in pain on the dirty street.
And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyre′ne, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. Luke 23:26
In addition to the physical weight of the cross, Jesus carried the spiritual weight of the sin of the whole world, past, present and future. He fell and was crushed by the weight of the heavy cross. When we are enduring struggles in our marriages, we too can be crushed by the weight of the heavy cross we must bear. Jesus accepted help to carry His cross. This is an image of Christians helping each other carry our burdens. You are no different and need help to carry your cross. Jesus is with you every step of the way to experiencing peace and joy in your marriage. Let Him help you to shoulder your cross. You do not have to suffer this burden alone.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
The yoke that Jesus is referring to is the yoke of obedience to His Father’s Word, under which you will find rest from your struggles. Do not waver in your commitment to obey God and your marriage vows no matter what may be happening in your marriage. Jesus will help shoulder your burden; trust in His loving care.
Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16
Following the path of righteousness and obedience will renew your strength and give rest to your soul. Follow Jesus. He will not forsake you in your time of need.
“And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” Luke 23:27-28
In spite of incredible pain, Jesus’ concern was not for Himself but for the women of Jerusalem who mourned and cried for Him. In spite of pain you may be experiencing due to struggles in your marriage, your concern should not be with yourself but for the salvation of your spouse and children. As Simon of Cyrene helped carry the cross for Jesus, look for ways to help carry your spouse’s cross through acts of mercy and grace.
And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd about them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed, and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” And one of the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a dumb spirit; and wherever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has he had this?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Mark 9:14-29
Trust Jesus to heal any division in your marriage and family. Believe in His healing power. In confidence, let Jesus shoulder your cross. He will never fail you or forsake you.
By the power of the resurrected Lord, may your marriage be blessed!
Next Week: The Crucifixion