Journey to the Cross

In the season of Lent we are in a time of preparation. Many of us will associate Lent with giving things up or some other practice and that is a common approach, we will struggle through without chocolate or caffeine and celebrate its return on Easter Sunday. What if we were to view Lent differently, to see it as a journey that we make, another opportunity in our year to journey closer to Jesus together?
This Lent we want to journey alongside Jesus towards the cross, to mirror the physical journey that he himself would have taken as we begin with the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor in Galilee, see his interactions with the disciples and the healing of Bartimaeus in Jericho and Bethany before the triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his crucifixion and resurrection.
However this is not just a physical journey, it also mirrors the journey of discipleship. Our desire in every season is walk more closely with Jesus and to always have our eyes fixed on him through moments of celebration, questioning, sorrow and doubt. This Lent, let’s journey together towards the cross, with our eyes fixed firmly on our Saviour, Jesus and let’s allow ourselves to be transformed once more as we follow.

1. Wilderness

 Luke 4:1-13

Andy Harding - 6 Mar 2022

In this time of Lent we are reprioritising our faith by focusing on Jesus' journey to the cross. God allows suffering as a way of spiritual growth and is with us in our wilderness experience. The devil tries to undermine our trust in God, our appointment by God. The temptations of Jesus were vital to his ministry and we face those temptations too, and in our wilderness we are stripped back to fully depend on Jesus. Let's embrace our wilderness as a season of preparation.

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2. Transfiguration

 Luke 9:28-36

Zak Robb - 13 Mar 2022

On the mount of Transfiguration, the disciples see the immense glory of Jesus displayed before them. It is a powerful moment of revelation and of declaration of who Jesus is as the son of God. This is where we’re beginning our journey to the cross; looking once more to the transformative revelation of who Jesus is and discovering what that revelation means for us as we seek to follow him.

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3. Asks and Arguments

 Mark 10:32-45

James Cant - 20 Mar 2022

As Jesus and the disciples make their way to Jerusalem, following along the Jordon River, we see a big ask and a big argument. The bold brothers James and John want to turn Jesus’ messianic journey into a march of glory where they will take pride of place with him – despite the incredible revelation they’ve experienced at his transfiguration, they are still not getting it. He reminds them of the cost of following him and as we journey with him we are invited to remember that cost as well. We began with an ‘ask’ and we finish with an argument between the disciples, this journey to the cross is filled with very human moments of doubt and anger, misunderstandings and getting it wrong and our journey is often the same. As we journey towards the cross, where do we need to remember the cost and where are our wrestlings with one another getting in the way?

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4. Blind Bartimaeus

 Mark 10:46-52

Odele Harding - 3 Apr 2022

Jesus and his disciples have made it through the Jordon Valley and down to the city of Jericho and while they are there we encounter another big ask! When Jesus asked James and John ‘what do you want me to do for you’ all he got was a request for power and prestige. However, when the same question is posed to the blind man, begging on the side of the road and crying out loudly for Jesus’ help, the answer he gets is, ‘Rabbi, I want to see’. In the story of Bartimaeus we see the markers present in many of our journeys of discipleship with Jesus. Bartimaeus declares who Jesus is (Son of David), leaves behind his old ways (throws aside his cloak) and follows Jesus wholeheartedly. As we come closer to the cross the invitation is the same to us, either again or for the first time. To remember and acknowledge who Jesus is, to leave behind our old ways and to wholeheartedly follow him once more.

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5. Palm Sunday: Triumphal Entry

 Mark 11:1-11

Steve McLeister - 10 Apr 2022

The climb from Jericho up to Jerusalem is long and hard – Jericho is the lowest city on earth (800 feet below sea level) while Jerusalem is 3000 feet above sea level! Needless to say, this journey through a hot and dry desert is the hardest part. So much is revealed to us about Jesus on the approach to Jerusalem, as they reach Bethany and the Mount of Olives, Jesus is declared and celebrated as King by those around him, messianic prophecies are fulfilled and the cry of ‘Hosanna’ echoes. But we know that this is not a royalty that we are used to or that anyone then was expecting either – Jesus radically redefines Kingship and we are challenged as his followers to put what we have at his disposal, to obey him even when we don’t understand and to go out of our way to honour him.

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6. Good Friday: Crucifixion

 Mark 15:33-41

Sarah Johnson - 15 Apr 2022

As Christians, many of us are almost too familiar with the story of Jesus’ death, Tom Wright says we need to find a way to make it strange to us again so that we can hear it once more as if it were new. The journey has reached its peak, we’ve made it to Jerusalem, just outside the walls, to the hill on which Jesus was mocked, beaten and crucified. There is so much for us to see here. From the darkness covering the land, to the anguished cry of Jesus, from the mocking voices of the crowd, to the final breath, from the tearing of the curtain, to the centurions testimony, to the women who stayed. Sunday is coming, but for now it is Friday and we sit in the shadow of the cross, beholding our Saviour who bore the weight of our sin, who gave himself freely for us. Our journey is not over, in many ways it’s just beginning, but this moment at Good Friday is a sobering and sombre moment of pause and reflection.

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7. Easter Sunday: Resurrection

 Mark 16:1-8

Andy Harding - 17 Apr 2022

The day of resurrection dawns with the women making their way to tomb to care for the body of their beloved Jesus. We have accounts of this moment in the story in all four gospels and we get different details from each. Here in Mark’s gospel we see the women discovering the empty tomb, they hear from an angel that he has risen, they are charged with telling the others what has happened and they leave feeling amazed and terrified. This is unequivocally a day of celebration, the day that we rejoice together that Jesus has risen from the dead and he is alive today! As we contemplate Jesus resurrection once more we remember the things that we are called to as his followers – to believe for the things that Jesus has told us he’d do and to tell others of the things we know about him. As we journey on out of Lent, what new things have we learned about our Saviour and how are we going to live with the light of his resurrection guiding and illuminating our way?

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