When I was a young girl my older brother told me a joke- I will preface it by saying upfront that it is a little sacrilegious- but once you get past it, there is a point I promise.
When Jesus was on the cross, He called out to Peter who was hiding somewhere in Jerusalem licking his wounds. Upon hearing his Lord he got up and ran towards the cross. Jesus called out “Peter, Peter.” Peter gets over many obstacles and people as he ran and dodged, finally making it to the foot of the cross. An out of breath Peter says “yes Jesus, I’m here” to which Jesus replies “I can see your house from here.”
As the years went by I would think of this joke but in a different way- I would always wonder- What DID Jesus see from the cross? Then, the question would always be what can I learn from how Jesus endured the cross?
When like Peter I am hiding out licking my wounds I try to learn from the cross. The first lesson I learned was that Jesus looked out. He did not focus on Himself and the pain He was in. My doctor taught me once, to busy my mind on other things and it would lessen the intensity of my pain. When I focus on my pain, that is all I can see and somehow it feels worse. Jesus looked outside of Himself and focused on the pain of others. While I am not questioning the excruciating pain He was in; I am only noting what a great lesson He has shared with me for when I am in pain. This applies to all pain, be it physical, mental, or emotional.
By looking out and being other focused, think of all that Jesus accomplished on the cross. Yes, our salvation; but only a God can multitask at the most crucial of times. The bible documents 7 different things Jesus says on the cross. Keep in mind that every word is a struggle.
1 “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”- He teaches us that even when we are wrongfully accused, even when we are in pain, we can still call out to God and instead of righteously accusing our oppressors we can look at them with mercy, see their deficiencies, have compassion and ask God to forgive them.
2 ”Today you will be with Me in paradise” – He takes time to save someone else. Someone who is lesser than He. How many times while I am in a pickle and am stressed out, do I overlook another person; simply because I am self-focused. I say righteously to myself- I have my own problems. My mom used to tell me “there is always time to say a kind word” What Jesus says to the thief gave him peace at the end of his life.
3 “Woman behold thy son! Behold thy mother!” In ancient Jewish culture a woman relied on her husband and children to care for her in her old age. Mary being a widow is losing her only son. During His suffering Jesus sees to the welfare of His mother placing her in the care of the beloved disciple. Many scholars say that we are that beloved disciple. Some of us have so many balls that we are juggling at the same time, that we find it difficult to reach out to another and see to their welfare. Here Jesus teaches us that we are to not just take care of ourselves but concern ourselves with those entrusted to us.
4. “My God, My God why has thou forsaken me?” This is the first line of Psalm 22 Jesus is responding to the naysayers and priests who know the Psalms by heart. If you read the Psalm in its entirety you will see that it speaks to the death of Jesus, and His vindication. He looked at all those who were putting Him down and reminded them that God was with Him. We should remember to do this as well. My favorite is the last verse of the Psalm which reads: “Posterity will serve Him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn- for He has done it.” When we are looking out from the cross remember to hold onto hope. Remind all those naysayers around you that God has not forgotten you and that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.
5. “I thirst” Jesus admits to a human need. We know He was not thirsting for water; He was thirsting for more souls to be saved. The fact is, He who is all and can do all admits to a need. Here Jesus shows us its ok to ask. We bless others and help their journey to heaven when we let them come and be of service to us.
6. “It is finished.” You are not meant to carry your cross forever. Even Jesus knew when it was time to let the cross go and move on. Sometimes our pain is all we have and who we have become. We can be afraid to move off the cross and face a new tomorrow. Jesus calls us to not linger in your pain but turn and face the glory of resurrection.
7. “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.” What a great lesson and Jesus leaves it for last. Place yourself and your pain in the loving hands of God the father. He will care for you.
When every breath counts, and every word is a labor of love you make sure that each word counts.
Last, I would like to highlight what Jesus chooses to focus on. The site of the crucifixion was full of people mocking Him, people taunting Him, people crying for Him and others pressuring Him for a miracle. Jesus looks out and focuses not the ugliness of Golgotha, not the ugliness of the sins of all mankind, Jesus looks out and with love focuses on you and me.
Jesus teaches us that love wins overall. Let us take these lessons learned looking out from the cross and like Jesus, when we are in pain and inclined to look within, let’s look out.
How’s the view?