Here’s something I have learned recently: Nothing of worth comes easy.
Discipleship is difficult. Sanctification is tough. Conforming, slowly but surely, into the image of Christ is a rough process. When the easy path shows up suddenly in your life, think twice before it allures you down the gentle slope.
I am reminded during this Lenten season that Jesus was tempted with the easy path on many occasions. Do you recall his temptation period in the wilderness? When he was tempted for 40 days (remind you of Lent?). Jesus even went without food for that length of time (how difficult is that?), don’t ask me how he did it, that feat is far beyond my well-fed understanding! But when he was fasting and praying, Satan tempted him with a few different outs.
First, Jesus was tempted to make a loaf of bread out of a rock. Next, he was tempted to put on a spectacle by jumping off the temple, having an angelic force catch him on the way down. Then, he was tempted to kiss the feet of Satan and have the whole world given to him in domination. Put yourself in the sandals of Jesus for a moment. Wouldn’t you say that was a tempting situation?
Certainly the creator of the universe could alter the material world and create a hearty roll for himself. The one who has a name that is far superior than the angels could have been made famous and declared to be the Messiah through the temple jumping. The King of kings could have had the nations as his subjects if he skipped the cross for a brief moment of deference.
The path Jesus needed to take was one pointing to the cross. Lent helps point followers of Jesus toward that pivotal point as well, where we find the possibility for redemption and reconciliation. Jesus chose to die for our sins and to restore relationships between broken humanity and God. For it was Jesus, God incarnate, who bore our sins and took our place.
The path to glory went through the cross. Before the glory of the resurrection came much pain. As a follower of Christ, I think we also tread a similar path. Like an athlete who trains their body for a big game and an acorn slowly transforming into a mighty oak tree, a follower of Christ slowly but surely is conformed into the image of Christ. Discipleship and sanctification is a tough path, but it is a path worth taking.
What have you learned recently?