Inspired by reflecting on the Easter story, I am writing this blog tonight. I’m thinking back to the productions I’ve been a part of and the noted difference of the disciples and who followed Christ to the end. Below are 3 reasons I believe they could’ve caused them not to follow and are reasons we are capable of falling into.
1. We’re afraid of the consequences of what others might do to us.
Scoffers were at the foot of the cross. Surely the centurions weren’t silent in their slaughtering displays. I often wonder why the other disciples weren’t there. What was it that compelled John and Mary Magdalene to follow so closely? It’s understandable that a good mother who loved her son would be near, but even at the risk of her own life is amazing. I think these three knew Him in such a way, understood His heavenly purpose in such a way that they had to draw near. They had already given up all else at this point and had nothing to lose. They were surely mocked at, frowned upon and resented by others. Yet there they were at the foot of the cross, beholding the One who loved them. They drowned out all of the other voices and beheld the voice of the One they gave all to follow.
I wonder how often our thoughts of others keep us from drawing near to the cross?
2. We are afraid of what the future holds if we are found with Him.
Peter, a follower of Christ denies Jesus in His darkest hour. When confronted with accusation, instead of identifying with the Son of God and His righteous stand, we find this disciple cursing His name. Where were the 9 close disciples that night? Where did they scurry off to? Were they hiding in hopes they wouldn’t be found out also? Were they trying to secure future plans now that their ideal world of following Christ didn’t manifest? Were they making preparations to go back into tax collecting and catching fish since that was an area of comfort to them?
Likewise, how often do we deny the cross of Christ because it’s inconvenient to our way of living, to our plans, and to our pride?
3. We know that the true revelation of the One who was slain would change us entirely.
It was ok for the disciples to follow Jesus as long as He was the hero in the stories. Who doesn’t want to be around a good man and a qualified leader? Who doesn’t get a thrill seeing miracles take place? The crowds would gather to hear Jesus speak, so you know His words compelled others. So why did this man have so few who stood with Him at His death? Why did those who were closest to Him not even stand with Him in prayer before he was taken at the hands of the soldiers? It’s easy to stand for Him on a superficial level. Anyone can stand in the back of a church, read their bibles and pray. Few then and few now can face Him in His moment of greatest sacrifice. Many who don’t know Him as Lord, but know what He did chalk Him up to simply be, “a good man”, “prophet”, “teacher” etc.. People can say many good things about Christ, but if we never truly behold Him as the sacrificial lamb of God, the Savior of the world, the Redeemer of our sins, we aren’t truly embracing the cross.
I’ve only acted as Mary Magdelene at Easter time, but I promise you every. single. performance. was marked by hysterical tears that were not of an acting skill. I remember a dress rehearsal where the director had stopped the run and I couldn’t stop wailing. Embarrassed, I lay down about two stories in the air on the platform of the cross and let my heart brake. A friend was playing Jesus and wasn’t even in the makeup display of blood and wounds, yet the reality of what could’ve been seen that day hit me.
I know that every day presents it’s own challenges. I more often can relate to one of the other disciples or people who heard His message than either Mary or John. Yet my heart longs to be there with my Lord Jesus at the cross. To see what He did for me. To be reminded that when I signed up for this life of following Him, it’s unto the end. That making Him Lord doesn’t excuse me from taking up my own cross, but that to identify with Christ is to know Him more.
Let me leave you with this thought. In going through productions as Mary Magdalene, my absolute favorite part was when Jesus appeared to me out of the empty tomb!!! Those who follow Him to the cross may feel the greatest sorrows at times, but they also experience the greatest joys of His resurrection!
Happy Easter! May you embrace the cross of Christ! :-)