As horrific as it is for us to read or hear about the violent arrest, trial and crucifixion, it has been suggested (by the editors of Homiletics) that the news of these events was far harder on the disciples than on us. After all, we are post-Easter Christians. We can view the horror of the passion in light of the resurrection. The harder message for us to digest is, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
Say the editors, “These are calls to sacrifice, and they intrude rudely into our safe, secure, convenient faith-lives. In the words of Father Daniel Berrigan, ‘If you want to follow Jesus, you had better look good on wood.’”
[Father Daniel Berrigan (1921 - ) is an activist priest who, through protest, poetry, and preaching, championed pacifism and social reform. For a time, he found himself on the FBI most wanted list for his anti-war activities during the Vietnam era.]
How do we look good on wood? It is only be saying “no” to ourselves that we are able to say “yes” to God and to others. This was how Jesus took the horror of the cross and turned it into something beautiful.
"But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (John 12:32).