The road is dusty. My gaze is fixed on him. His eyes pierce through the layers and see my soul. We walk. The pace is slow. The crowds line the road. I know his load is heavy, but I focus on his eyes.
“Why are you showing me this, Jesus? You know I appreciate the load you carried for me. Do I need to appreciate it more? Is that what this journey is about?”
I see the sweat on his brow, the anguish of the cross he does not deserve to carry. His gaze never leaves me. We walk.
“Jesus, you know I will walk with you. I know the price to follow is high. I have counted that cost and here I am. So why are you showing me this?”
And then I hear it. In all my time as a follower, I had never thought of the sounds he endured on that walk. At first the sounds were in the background. As my ears were opened, the voices were magnified.
Slander. Accusations. Hate. Lies. Rage. Mocking.
Looking into the face of love, the origin of love, I am overwhelmed by the sounds. He doesn’t deserve it. “He is innocent!” I want to scream. I want to silence the shouts, the screams, the laughter. His piercing eyes tell me he feels the pain inflicted by those cries. Yes, he is God, but he is also man and his heart breaks.
“Jesus, why am I hearing this? What are you trying to tell me?”
When you walk with me…. when you take up your cross and follow me… you will hear what we are hearing now. It is part of the cost of walking this road to Golgotha.
The truth of his words penetrate into the deepest, darkest places of my heart. Those places that are too tender to touch and so are buried in a dark corner. Those wounds inflicted by sharp words that cut me to the core, making me question my worth and my purpose. Those lies that I struggle not to believe about myself. Those wounds that caught me so off guard, coming at times from my people.
But these people I hear now, on this road, these people taking aim and firing words of accusation at love himself… they are his people. They are his family, his town. They are the ones he talked with in the synagogue. The ones who heard him explain the kingdom on that mountain. They go back generations, with heritage, history, in covenant together. The very same ones…. these are the ones I hear, even now.
We walk. My tears blur the view of my savior’s face, but I know his gaze hasn’t left me. I thought I had counted the cost. Now I count again. Is it worth it? Accusations and lies hurt. But if I don’t ever hear them…. am I following? Am I on that path with my savior, walking to the crucifixion of my own flesh?
And in that moment I know, as I knew before. No cost is too high. If walking with him means enduring the vile sounds of the crowds, I must endure. I must endure, for there is no walk I would rather be on than this one. There is no company I would rather keep than my present company. There are no eyes I would rather focus on during this journey. There is no gaze I would rather have on me. And so, with a heavy cross on my back, I follow him. I follow to my death and therefore to my life.
*Disclaimer: the previous is a conversation based on something that I saw and felt in prayer one day when I was really struggling. I have added details for the sake of telling a story, which I hope will strengthen and encourage someone. I am in no way saying that God and I had this word-for-word conversation. I would also like to emphasize that I believe in spiritual authority and accountability. The “voices” in this story are not the voices of spiritual leadership in my life.