25 June 2009

Taking Up the Cross

'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.' --Mark 8:34

All it takes is a good night's sleep for me to forget that. God is patient.

Here's what Joachim Jeremias says of this text:

'We generally think of one who, as the expression is, bears his cross, as one who patiently accepts whatever God sends; but there is no support here for this interpretation, nor does the phrase bear the meaning of readiness for martyrdom. It rather envisages a concrete situation, namely the moment when the man who has been condemned to crucifixion, with the cross-piece laid on his shoulders, has to run the gauntlet of the howling, yelling crowd, as it greets him with insults and curses. The bitterness lies in the realization of being an unpitied outcast from the community, and exposed defenceless to abuse and contempt. Anyone who follows me, says Jesus, must expect a life as hard as the via dolorosa of one who is on the way to the place of execution. But even in death they are in the hands of one without whose will not even a sparrow falls to the ground. And they may learn . . . how the bliss that awaits them will wipe out all memory of suffering. But however great their sacrifice and their success may be, the greatness of God's gift will keep them humble and guard them from pharisaic self-righteousness.

--Rediscovering the Parables (Scribner's, 1966), 171

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