To help us journey with Jesus towards the cross, each day this week I will post a scripture to read, a face from the journey of the cross on which to reflect, a prayer to pray, and a practice or suggested discipline to carry out.
Read the Scriptures:
Reflect on a Face of the Cross:
The first to hear the familiar words of John 3:16 were not the disciples, nor a crowd of people on a mountainside, but Nicodemus, a leader in Israel, who came to meet with Jesus under the secret cover of night. In John 19, we see him again several years later helping Joseph of Arimathea carry the dead body of Jesus from the cross to a nearby tomb.
The transformation we see in Nicodemus from John 3 to John 19 is staggering. In chapter 3, Nicodemus is struggling and searching to understand the law with his head but lacks all connection to his heart. Jesus even asks him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not understand these things?”
But in chapter 19, Nicodemus’ head and heart connect in a powerful way as he confronts the bruised, bloodied body of his Lord. The words of John 3:16 must have come alive under the dead weight of Jesus’ body – God gave His one and only Son – in a way no one, least of all he, ever expected or imagined. No other reason explains why this prominent Pharisee would be willing to be seen with the crucified Jesus, forsaking the Law by handling the body of a dead man and becoming ceremonially unclean, particularly during Passover.
The cross transforms all true followers of Jesus. It calls us out on our questions, it confronts our concepts about church and religion, and it paints vivid, often surprising pictures of the God who loved so much that He gave us His Son Jesus Christ. We can no longer hide in the shadows for fear of identification. Like Nicodemus, we become willing to risk it all – our reputations, our lives, our wealth, our careers, our questions, our traditions – as we confront the God who so radically gave.
What about you? Are you holding back from following Jesus from fear? From pride? From the distractions of wealth, career, and a hurried, busy life? From unanswered questions? My friend, like Nicodemus, today is the day to give your life to the God who gave you His one and only Son. Don’t want a minute longer to surrender your life and give your heart, your all, to God. If you want to take the next steps to give to God what He alone can fill, please watch the video below.
Thank You for giving Your one and only Son. May our hearts, like Nicodemus’, be transformed by the power of the gift of the cross and all that You gave.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Spend ten minutes in prayer today, reflecting on the God who gave. Ask Him to show you what He wants you to give – your reputation, your career, your questions – in response to Christ on the cross.
For more encouragement throughout the week, you can find me on Instagram, @baker.susannah.