"On him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus."
We see in Simon's carrying the cross a picture of the work of the Church throughout all generations; she is the cross-bearer after Jesus. Mark then, Christian, Jesus does not suffer so as to exclude your suffering. He bears a cross, not that you may escape it, but that you may endure it. Christ exempts you from sin, but not from sorrow. Remember that, and expect to suffer.
But let us comfort ourselves with this thought, that in our case, as in Simon's, it is not our cross, but Christ's cross which we carry. When you are molested for your piety; when your religion brings the trial of cruel mockings upon you, then remember it is not your cross, it is Christ's cross; and how delightful is it to carry the cross of our Lord Jesus!
You carry the cross after him. You have blessed company; your path is marked with the footprints of your Lord. The mark of his blood-red shoulder is upon that heavy burden. 'Tis his cross, and he goes before you as a shepherd goes before his sheep. Take up your cross daily, and follow him.
Do not forget, also, that you bear this cross in partnership. It is the opinion of some that Simon only carried one end of the cross, and not the whole of it. That is very possible; Christ may have carried the heavier part, against the transverse beam, and Simon may have borne the lighter end. Certainly it is so with you; you do but carry the light end of the cross, Christ bore the heavier end.
And remember, though Simon had to bear the cross for a very little while, it gave him lasting honour. Even so the cross we carry is only for a little while at most, and then we shall receive the crown, the glory. Surely we should love the cross, and, instead of shrinking from it, count it very dear, when it works out for us "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
"Before honour is humility."
Humiliation of soul always brings a positive blessing with it. If we empty our hearts of self, God will fill them with his love. He who desires close communion with Christ should remember the word of the Lord, "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." Stoop if you would climb to heaven. Do we not say of Jesus, "He descended that he might ascend?" So must you. You must grow downwards, that you may grow upwards; for the sweetest fellowship with heaven is to be had by humble souls, and by them alone. God will deny no blessing to a thoroughly humbled spirit. "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," with all its riches and treasures. The whole exchequer of God shall be made over by deed of gift to the soul which is humble enough to be able to receive it without growing proud because of it. God blesses us all up to the full measure and extremity of what it is safe for him to do. If you do not get a blessing, it is because it is not safe for you to have one. If our heavenly Father were to let your unhumbled spirit win a victory in his holy war, you would pilfer the crown for yourself, and meeting with a fresh enemy you would fall a victim; so that you are kept low for your own safety. When a man is sincerely humble, and never ventures to touch so much as a grain of the praise, there is scarcely any limit to what God will do for him. Humility makes us ready to be blessed by the God of all grace, and fits us to deal efficiently with our fellow men. True humility is a flower which will adorn any garden. This is a sauce with which you may season every dish of life, and you will find an improvement in every case. Whether it be prayer or praise, whether it be work or suffering, the genuine salt of humility cannot be used in excess.
[Ĕli ēzûr] - god is my help.
1. The second son of Moses and Zipporah to whom his father gave this name as a memento of his gratitude to God (Exod. 18:4; 1 Chron. 23:15, 17; 26:25).
2. A son of Becher and grandson of Benjamin (1 Chron. 7:8).
3. A priest who assisted in the return of the Ark to Jerusalem (1 Chron. 15:24).
4. A Reubenite ruler in David's time (1 Chron. 27:16).
5. The prophet who rebuked Jehoshaphat for his alliance with king Ahaziah in the Ophir expedition (2 Chron. 20:37).
6. A chieftain sent with others to induce many of the Israelites to return with Ezra to Jerusalem (Ezra 8:16).
7. A priest who put away his foreign wife (Ezra 10:18).
8. A Levite who had done the same (Ezra 10:23).
9. One of the sons of Harim who had done likewise (Ezra 10:31).
10. An ancestor of Joseph, husband of Mary (Luke 3:29).
11. Abraham's chief servant, and "son of his house," that is, one of his large household. He is named "Eliezer of Damascus" probably to distinguish him from others of the same name (Gen. 15:2; 24).
Today's reading: 1 Samuel 1-3, Luke 8:26-56 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: 1 Samuel 1-3
The Birth of Samuel
1 There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.
3 Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the LORD. 4Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb. 6Because the LORD had closed Hannah's womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 8 Her husband Elkanah would say to her, "Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?"
Today's New Testament reading: Luke 8:26-56
Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man
26 They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. 27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!" 29 For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.
30 Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"
"Legion," he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss....
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:9-13).
Jesus said, “they hated me without reason.” He was neither the first nor the last person to be the recipient of senseless rejection and persecution, but because he was the one perfect, sinless one, the hatred played out against him was the vilest the world would ever see. His haters called light darkness, they saw righteousness and called it wickedness. They even called the work of God the deeds of the devil.
We’ve heard of stories of brave sacrifices–a soldier throwing his body on a hand grenade, a firefighter charging into an inferno only to lose his own life. These are stirring, and they show humanity at its best. But Jesus’ sacrifice was not the impulse of a desperate moment. He moved with resolve toward his own end. There is no greater love. We can look through every page of history and every corner of the universe and we won’t find anything that comes even close. Jesus looked at his friends, told them he would be laying down his life, and then required one simple thing: love each other.
Ponder This: What do you have to say to Jesus who laid his life down for you?
Today's Lent reading: Luke 15-16 (NIV)View today's Lent reading on Bible Gateway
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent....