Note: The Lectio Divina based devotion below follows a Lenten journey called “By His Side.” The order for daily scriptures throughout Lent comes from “Praying with Passion,” by Ken Taylor. The daily scriptures chronologically follow the passion of Christ from the Last Supper to the crucifixion. I focus on a particular word or phrase from the day’s reading and meditate on what the passage says about Christ, human nature, and about our relationship with Christ and others. I end the meditation with a prayer for God’s grace.
Contemplation: John 19:17 (RSV) – … and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place of the skull, which is called in Hebrew Gol’gotha.
Contemplation: “bearing his own cross …”
Meditation: The verb “bearing” – Gk., βασταζω (bastazo) – means more than just the lifting or carrying of a heavy object such as a heavy wooden beam. “Bearing” as used in the context of John’s gospel and his account of the Passion of Christ has a metaphoric meaning that points to something more profound. When John says that Jesus bore the cross, it means Jesus lay down his life for others. It means that Jesus submitted himself to the sentence of crucifixion and all the suffering and torture that came with it with God’s peace and without complaint for the sake of the world. Jesus accepts crucifixion, not with despair, but with selfless love for others. By bearing, suffering, and enduring the cross, Jesus saves the world from darkness, falsehood, sin, and death. In his falling into the earth and dying, his life will bear much fruit. John says the fruit of Jesus’s life and ministry are those who believe that he is the Messiah, the Son of God, and thus have life in his name (20:31).
The verb “bear” is an essential term for John. He uses the verb 27 times, more than any other writer in the Old and New Testaments. In John’s gospel, Jesus “bears” several things. He “bears” witness to the light, witness to the inner thoughts of humanity, to what he has seen and heard in heaven, to himself, that the Father has sent him, to what the scriptures say about him, to the works of God, and he bears witness to the truth. God “bears” witness to Jesus. The Holy Spirit “bears” witness to Jesus. Jesus “bears” fruit and his disciples will “bear” much fruit and give witness to the world that they belong to him if they remain in him. When Jesus is consoling his disciples and telling them that he was going back to his Father who sent him, he stops and says to his disciples, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot “bear” (support, endure, suffer) them now.
Today I meditate on all the people in the world that with love lay down their lives for others and bear their cross with freedom, authenticity, with joy, a desire to help others arrive at their dreams, and with complete inner peace.
Prayer: Today, I pray for the grace and peace to lay down my life with freedom, authenticity, joy, and a desire to see the best dreams of others achieved.