A Made to Measure Cross

 

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 8:34 ESV)

Ann was showing friends the photographs of the Easter production recently. We discussed how each year the production has been staged, Becky, Tim and other creatives have added more material, cast members have come and gone or the role they play has changed; for example Jesus has been played by four different actors. We talked through the pictures and came to the crucifixion. I explained how for theatrical impact the cross has to ‘work’; it must look heavy and cumbersome, but be light weight for the actor to safely carry through the audience as if struggling and when jostled by the guards he must be able to remain stable and in control despite acting otherwise. For the crucifixion it slides into a base so when the guards ‘nail’ the actor playing Jesus to it they can lift it up to its vertical position with him on it, kick out the hinged stabilisers and leave it free standing with the actor standing on a small platform as if hanging in the agony we can only imagine our Lord endured for us.

Each time the person playing Jesus has changed the cross has been adjusted or remade to suit each of the four different actors who have been very different in stature. It is ‘made to measure’ for height and reach so that each actor looked as if they were hanging when they stood there in the tormented emotional sculpture required by Jon the director. The actor needed to remain safe and reasonably comfortable in position ‘on’ the cross for some time.

This got me thinking about how we can approach our christian walk. After I came to the Lord I had struggled with a desire for what was in effect ‘a made to measure cross’. One that was comfortable, easy to take up and follow Jesus. My subconscious desire was for a cross that would be flattering to my profile, one that would ‘improve my image’.

Perhaps it could be likened to a sharp suit, made to measure, cut, fitted and then adjusted before being finished so that my uneven rounded shoulders look the same height, square and powerful, my middle age spread doesn’t look prominent and my short stature is somehow elongated.

A made to measure cross would be light weight, well made, smooth and clean, not held together by prayer against all worldly probability, not battered and rough, filthy with sin. It would make me look stronger, better, kinder, more righteous than I am. It would ‘accommodate’ my idols and hide all my faults so that I wouldn’t have to change that much to carry it!

The cross of Jesus was not made to measure. It was one size fits all. All my sin, pride, brokenness, failure, judgement, shame, control, sickness, fear, etc fits on it perfectly. Instead of a little platform to stand on in comfort, there was all the space needed for all of my baggage, all of my idols, all of my sin to be surrendered and heaped up before the Lord for Him to take away. And whats more, all your sin, pride, brokenness, failure, judgement, shame, control, sickness, fear, etc fits on it perfectly too and there’s plenty of room for your baggage, idols and sin etc too.

Jesus death on that one size takes all cross always was, always is and forever will be all sufficient and beyond our ability to measure.

If like me you’ve sometimes wanted a made to measure cross forget it! You can’t make one. We don’t need one anyway because the one size cross God used was enough. In His strength we can endure, surrender, find healing, grow, learn, be washed clean by His blood and be clothed in His righteousness.

Prayer:

Lord forgive me for when I’ve wanted to take up a cross of my own making so that I might look good instead of being made good, hide my faults instead of letting you deal with them, accommodate my idols instead of giving them up and cope with life instead of letting you heal me. Help me Lord to see all you have done for me and surrender my everything into your hands. May your will be done in my life.

In Jesus name Amen

Andrew White