All of us have danced this dance at some time; we are human and prone to sin and failure, greed, weakness and fear. So many times we are in positions when we could speak out, and do not speak up when we should—who wants to rock the boat, be branded a trouble-maker or big mouth, or go against the rest and stand out? That always feels like you have just painted a big red and white target circle on yourself. “Please, Lord, just let me drag the cross a little, okay? Because Jesus, it’s just too heavy to actually carry it…”
These moments of choice could be looked at in another light, however. They can be moments of grace for us; opportunities to do the right thing, to turn from the temptation of the comfortable and conformable. Discipleship does not mean to play it safe, and that is why Jesus rebukes Peter. He knows how hard it is going to get. I would imagine Jesus must be tempted already anyway, and then Peter offers him a plan to put the cross down and run away. We can see that in the name of love Peter does this, but we know that he has missed the mark. The easy way is the slippery slope, and it is a downward slide. Jesus turns his face to Jerusalem for us, praise be to God!
It always seems to be more difficult to do the right thing—whether it is choosing the non-fat foods or taking a deep, calming breath in the midst of righteous anger; being kind to the mean person or taking time for someone when all you really want to do is your own thing. It is realigning priorities, being fair, giving the benefit of the doubt, forgiving seven times seventy and putting others before your own self. It is speaking out against war (of any kind), injustice, prejudice and judgment (which is not our place). It is feeding anyone who is hungry—not just the “deserving poor” and picking up your cross while helping someone else carry theirs. What you may notice is that carrying our crosses together actually may make for a lighter load—or at least—good company on the way. “For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.” Hmmm. Thank God for his mercy and compassion, forgiveness and grace as we struggle with our crosses and temptations.