Lent Devotional: Luke 23:26-31

by Jonathan Haefs

Luke 23:26-31 (click here)
And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)

You’ve traveled a long way… all the way from North Africa. And, you’ve finally arrived at Jerusalem, the holy city of your faith. You spend the night in a tent on the Mount of Olives, anticipating the activities of the next day. Your mind is flooded with joy as you think about going to the market, finding the perfect lamb, purchasing it, making sacrifice in the temple, and finally celebrating the Passover.

That’s what you have journeyed all this way for… the lamb, the blood, the celebration that God’s wrath passes over his people and falls on a substitute.

You rise early in the morning, but something isn’t right. There is a restlessness amongst the people as if something strange happened throughout the night. Still, you make your way towards the city. With each step, the crowds grow thicker, but the joy you hoped would fill the air seems to have completely evaporated. In its place there is an ever-mounting tension.

Voices raise. Shouts. Curses. Ahead… something is coming into view.

You cannot quite see, but Romans are at the heart of whatever is going on… typical. Now the image is becoming clearer because they are headed towards the very spot where you are standing. You try to back into the crowd… to blend in… to disappear… but it is too late.

A stumble. A scream. A criminal on his knees. A man beaten so badly, so bloody you’re surprised he isn’t already dead. Then, your arm is seized, and your eyes meet the angry gaze of a soldier pulling you from the crowd towards a cross.

The wood is lifted, shifted, and placed on your back. The blood covered man is lead ahead and you follow behind… you know where you are headed.

Crosses have one destination. Instead of traveling into the city with joy, you find yourself headed out with a man they call Jesus. You arrive at the place they call “The Skull.” You drop the cross and fade back into the crowd.

The hammers fall.

Is this what you have journeyed all this way for? You thought you came for a lamb… for the blood for the celebration that God’s wrath passes over his people and falls on a substitute.

As you walk back toward Jerusalem and look back at Jesus… there is a lingering thought you cannot escape and you’re not even sure you want to… “The lamb, the blood, and a substitute as my savior… what if this man… what would that mean… wouldn’t that change everything?”

*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.