The Power of the Cross is a book well-suited to daily reading during Lent. The book is available here in pdf version. Daily excerpts will be reprinted in this space during Lent.
From the Introduction (part 2)
Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few. MATTHEW 7:13–14
Let’s be honest: Most of us, given the choice, opt for the wide and comfortable path, the route of our own design. We would never choose the cancer, the unemployment, the infertility. The narrow way is just too hard, too lonely. Even so, the cross of Christ bids us to follow where it leads us. In John 21:18–19, Jesus prophesied this destiny for Peter, when he said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” Sooner or later, as Peter discovered, a cross is offered to us. If we want to follow the Lord, we must not only accept it but embrace it.
At some point in our lives we must acknowledge that our ways are not God’s way. We find one such example in the Gospel of Luke. On the day of his resurrection, Jesus encountered two disciples on the road to Emmaus. As they walked along they fell into discussion, and the two men shared with Jesus, whom they did not recognize, how they had hoped that Jesus was “God’s Messiah” (Luke 24:21). Now these hopes had been dashed. Not only had the Lord failed to overtake his religious and political enemies; he had suffered an ignominious death at their hands. As far as they were concerned, God had abandoned Jesus.
At that moment, the disciples did not understand the way of the cross, did not realize that the road to victory was marked by overwhelming adversity, unthinkable suffering, and blind trust. All they could see was weakness, defeat, and failure; as a result, they were unable to recognize the Lord even when he was in their midst. How does Jesus respond? “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25,26). More
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