A Lenten Reflection: Jesus and Our Comfort

reliving the passion“Jesus has many who love his kingdom in heaven, but few who bear his Cross. Many follow Jesus to the Breaking of the Bread, but few to the drinking of the Cup of his Passion. They who love Jesus for His own sake, and not for the sake of comfort for themselves, bless Him in every trial and anguish of heart, no less than in the greatest joy.”

This quote from Reliving the Passion by Walter Wangerin Jr. stings a little at first.

“They who love Jesus for His own sake, and not for the sake of comfort for themselves…

Do I truly love Jesus for His own sake, or do I love him for my own comfort?  What happens when I’m uncomfortable?  Do I expect to share in Christ’s sufferings, treated no better than he was?  Do I expect my way to look different than the way of the cross?

The truth is, I want the joy that Jesus offers without embracing his prescribed way of joy.  I want circumstancial comfort instead of embracing my Comforter in the midst of circumstances I wouldn’t ever choose.

And there have been a lot of circumstances I wouldn’t ever choose.

It seems that the more we try to sacrifice, the more we labor to serve and to lay down all that we own at Jesus’ feet, the more opposition we encounter.  We have had several Judas-esque betrayals and false accusations.  We have had to sit through two “trials” of sorts and keep our mouths shut, while our accusers hurl insults and lies at us.  I’ve sat there, biting my tongue and looking away to hold back the tears.  And they have left me extremely weary.

Yet – this.  “They who love Jesus for His own sake…bless Him in every trial and anguish of heart, no less than in the greatest joy.”

There can be no resurrection without the Cross.  I believe this for Jesus, but do I believe it for me?

Instead of stewing with uncontrollable anger, I want my response to be a compassionate “Father, forgive them.”  As I’m being insulted, I want to see the face of Jesus in excruciating pain: shutting his mouth in response to THE false accusations of all false accusations.  Because the truth is, I am Judas.  I am the one hurling insults at Jesus.  But through the Cross, Jesus has taken on my Judas-ness and freed me – but this was not the freedom I was hoping for.  I wanted freedom from the shame, the insults…yet he granted me something much deeper – Himself, his presence.   He granted freedom from the chains of bitterness and the plots of revenge.

Philippians 4:10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

And so I wait.  Instead of despising the suffering, I bear it — knowing that His cross did what only an instrument of torture and death could do – produce a resurrection.  I look to him as one that is united to him in both his suffering and his resurrection.  I wait, while he uses this cross to produce unimaginable joy — a joy that proclaims to the world that I love him — not for my comfort’s sake, but for His sake alone.

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