The Beautiful Mess of the Cross
One of the most beautiful, yet messy displays of love in the history of humanity was the cross. A man beaten, bruised and cut at His side, laying down His life for the people He deeply loved. Amongst the tears of the immense pain, He felt, as death approached Him, something deeper was taking place than just His death. He was giving birth to an expression of intimacy that humanity had never seen before, but that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit always had together. I first caught a glimpse into this intimacy as my heart was moved by the Father as He spoke to me on my birthday earlier this year.
It all started on the morning of my birthday. I was out on the coast watching the sunrise over the ocean and writing in my journal. This was a special moment for me. It was the start of a day of celebrating my birthday and I was excited to talk with Papa about the new year of life I was about was to step into. For you see, one of the questions I love to ask Papa on my birthday is, “Papa, what’s on your heart for my year?” and when I asked him this time, He sweetly whispered into my ear, “John 19.” It was my 19th Birthday and He just happened to answer with the 19th chapter of John. So I searched for the chapter and started to read about Jesus being sent to the cross. Then something happened. I read the words, “So when Jesus looked down and saw the disciple he loved standing with her, he said, ”Mother look - John will be a son to you.” Then he said, “John, look - she will be a mother to you.” From that day on, John accepted Mary into his home as one of his family (John 19:26-27).” My heart was moved to tears. It was like my heart had taken me to a place my head had not gone yet. In the last moments of Jesus’ life before His death, He saw some of the people closest to Him at the cross and entrusted them with a covenant of family with each other. Mary was Jesus’ Mama and someone who had known Him for His entire earthly life. John was Jesus’ spiritual son and someone who knew Jesus like not many others did. There was also the fact that is was very uncommon for someone outside of the immediate family to look after the mother when the eldest son was gone in Jewish culture. Yet Jesus chose to trust them to love each other with the same love He loved them with. He chose to trust them to express a deep love to one another just like Jesus did with the Father and Spirit.
Not only did Jesus entrust them with an invitation into a deeper revelation of the intimacy He shared with the Father and Spirit, but the way He chose to share it was on the cross. With blood, sweat, and tears dripping down His scarred, dirty body. This was utter vulnerability. This was Jesus letting humanity in to what we would think to be His weakest and most hopeless moment as a human. Yet it was one of His most powerful declarations of love to humanity. He let Mary and John see Him in His most vulnerable place so that they would discover the depths of His love in His heart.
What Jesus experienced on the cross sounds more familiar than you might first think. As a man, I have not experienced what it is like to give birth, but I have been told by a handful of women I know that is both a very painful and messy process. I have also been told by the same handful of women that giving birth is one of the most treasured occasions where people are swept into a moment of life giving beauty that often gathers families together. The cross was just that. It was not one without the other, the cross was a beautiful mess that just happened to bring humanity together on what was said to be humanity's worst day in history. Jesus did not just invite Mary and John in that moment into what He gave birth to on the cross. He entrusted them with an expression of intimacy that they could cultivate and give to the rest of humanity.
Here at Bethel Church we recently had our annual Kingdom Expansion Conference. This year’s theme was all about going deeper with Papa and one another so we can carry His presence wider. This is what Jesus gave birth to on the cross and gave to humanity. But it takes vulnerability and laying down your life to the people who you are called to for you to be able to accept this precious gift from Him. Sometimes in Christianity, we get so caught up in the process of doing that we forget why we are here in the first place. We were made for connection. It’s always been about connection from the very beginning with Papa. His heart will always be about connection. That’s what God is - love and love gathers people together.
My heart was first moved to covenant my life to others when the Spirit moved over my heart as Papa spoke to me. I feel that Papa wants to move your heart in the same way. He would love to walk a covenantal relationship with you and for you to walk that same journey with others. That means mess, that means pain, but it also means beauty, it also means raw, authentic, real, heart connection. Will you open up your heart and choose to start a journey of covenant?