When I took my oldest child on a road trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico fifteen years ago, I had no idea that part of our adventure would be avoiding jaywalkers. The cross walk, at the light, was only ten yards away yet the pedestrian would walk out in front of our car to cross. It seemed like it’s own odd, real life video game to see if we could stop or swerve fast enough when the next person darted out into the street in front of our car. Even with traffic lights and crosswalks close by we never knew when someone would be weaving in and out of traffic to cross right in front of the car. We had to be alert. This week those memories of jaywalkers has come to mind.
Jaywalkers and crosswalks seemed at odds with one another. My assumption is that the allure of jaywalking is to cross the street when you want, where you want. Had Peter lived a couple millennia later I think he might have been a jaywalker had he shown up in Albuquerque; wanting to cross where he wanted, when he wanted. We know him to be impulsive, not wanting to wait, not wanting the cross to be the way of Jesus.
It’s only been moments (Mark 8:27-30) since Peter has proclaimed that Jesus is the Messiah (at which time Jesus sternly instructs them to tell no one) that we then hear Jesus say to Peter, “Get behind me Satan”(Mark 8:31-33) . Darting between the moving pieces of this narrative Peter seems to head out first in one direction, then another. Peter doesn’t want to hear this talk of suffering and rejection.
Jesus calls to the crowds and invites them into this conversation of the cross. That is what it will look like to follow Jesus- a cross walk. This week when we hear Jesus tell the crowd and his disciples about the cross he uses “cross words”. Turning things upside-down and inside out these words, these cross words will be like a crossword where there are clues that fit the words together. For a little Lenten experiment in our “Being C Students” I have created this crossword puzzle for you ,which you can click on and solve online. Throughout this season of Lent Jesus speaks to us- Cross words. This is where we are heading together as followers of Jesus to Jerusalem. These cross words invite us into a journey of the heart. So let’s add cross and heart.
Crossing your heart. The expression “cross my heart” often followed by a hand gesture of marking an X over one’s heart is used to verify that what I am speaking is truth. Jesus speaks truth to his disciples and the crowds. Following him, picking up one’s cross will take them to some crossroads marked by rejection, pain, suffering and death. This will be a tough journey.
Indeed Jesus will continue the marvelous and miraculous such they have seen ; Jesus curing Peter’s mother-in-law of her fever, stilling a storm, restoring a young girl to life, healing a demoniac, feeding 5000, walking on water, healing the sick, curing the deaf and the blind, feeding 4000 from just a few fish and loaves.. and more. And- this is a big “and”, Jesus speaks to them in parables and teachings that their minds cannot comprehend but to which their hearts respond as they follow. He speaks truth. He is crossing his heart and the truth is this love Jesus has for them and for us takes him to the cross.
As we continue in our journey of being C students I encourage you to look at crosswalks with new eyes- consider how when you see one it might be a sign to pause, take a look within your heart and wonder how Jesus is calling to you in that particular time, place and moment on your “cross” walk as a follower.
Crosswords are puzzles. Yet when there is a space between those two words cross and word- it’s different. So how about allowing yourself allow some time and space in this season of Lent to enter into God’s word. Take time to read the Bible and listen for Jesus’ words for you in particular. And perhaps as a practice just for these remaining days of this season- cross your heart.
Let Jesus speak the trust of his amazing love for you deep into your heart. Perhaps you will take this invitation of a cross shaped to take time each day to say a prayer, make the sign of the cross on your body or over your heart and remember the cross it is the gift of God in Christ Jesus for you- this is the love you are invited to let in the Lenten season.