As Mary Magdela reached out the first Easter to touch the risen Savior, we, too, long to feel His touch. (John 20:17) If you could embrace the Lord Jesus today — feel the strength of His arms, the warmth of His love, and savor His closeness, would this “hug” build your faith?
When I think of what the Lord smells like, I think of fresh linen, and wood – rough hewn. But there is another smell – disturbing and frightening. It is the smell of death: His, and, as His follower, my own. Sheep have an excellent sense of smell – maybe that is why I am so prone to wander from Christ – I can smell the necessary death of something I cherish – my own way.
“I am crucified with Christ, and I no longer live . . .” isn’t just a mantra. It is marrow:Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 from THE MESSAGE )
So, taking up my cross doesn’t mean sighing deeply and living with disappointment; it means putting to death, as on a cross, all my little passions: An ancient Roman cross where Jesus suffered and died was rough-hewn, splintering shards of wood into His back. When I embrace the Cross, it will cost all I claim is mine -- not just the "good things" that I enjoy toting around, like my husband, kids, education, work, etc. -- but it means letting go of resentments, disappointments, bitterness and frustrations, all of which have become such familiar traveling companions in my life's journey. It means letting go for it is not ultimately me who has been sinned against.
Maybe that’s why the Cross is such foolishness to people who don’t think our little indulgences are so bad? We don’t like smelling death. So, it’s easier to debate if Christ really lived; if God really is.