The kingdom of God is shaped like a cross. When you stand at the foot of the cross, you have to look up. Like the ladder that Jacob saw, it leads your eye to heaven, concentrates your gaze until you see angels descending and ascending. A glory shines beyond, and you can hear the echo of a chant: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Him only shall you serve.”
The words fill your mind and swell your heart. It is only that your feet are concreted to the earth or you would be rising on the swell of the words right into the presence of the Holy One.
But the scene is changed.
Now on the cross is the shadowy form of a man. He hangs with outstretched arms; his face is bent toward the earth.
For a moment I look down from his vantage point. I see the people gathered, looking up. I feel the hatred and rejection, hear the curses of the crowd. I see the words drawn with his breath, reaching down to the earth, “Father, forgive them…”
In shock, I look back to the hanging man. The torn flesh, the crown of thorns, the nails in his hands and feet, the spittle on his cheek. Still he gazes down. I see the look of love and hear the echo of his words: “They know not what they do.”
How can I understand such love? Can I see men through his eyes? Again, I look down. I see the tears of loss and loneliness; feel the depths of their despair. A call throbs through the air, “Come, follow me … follow me … follow me. Take up your cross and follow me.”
At once, I am torn from the cross to turn and contemplate my world.
My possessions seemed so few until I was told to sell all that I have. I have shelter. I have food. I am clothed. I have the respect of my family and friends. Are these possessions I can sell?
Am I ready to give myself to the poor?
What is the cost of taking up a cross? Is it the tearing of the flesh; the mocking crown; the imprisoning nails? Is it the degradation of the false accusations?
How hard it is for a man rich in the comforts of this world to enter the kingdom of God!
“Who then can be saved?”
“…with God all things are possible…”
Alone I stand at the foot of the cross, looking up into the eyes looking down at me. Once-spoken words, written words, are drawn from the pages of my mind. “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
With God all things are possible.
(Scripture references: Matthew 19:21-26 and Matthew 11:28,29 KJV)
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