Mark 8:31 includes Jesus saying that he “must undergo” great suffering, and would die at the hands of the temple leaders. Still today, it is regularly debated in the church whether or not Jesus “had” to die. Perhaps this question is best answered in by asking the question in reverse: “Was it possible for Jesus to be 100% committed to God’s will for humanity without facing the burden of the Roman cross?”
Christ says, if you want to follow me, deny yourself and take up your cross. This is not a simple invitation. It is, as Peter found, a radical deviation from the powers and desires of empires. It invites a humility and willing vulnerability for the sake of the gospel.
Easter is not a call to return to the way things were. It is a reminder that in Christ’s resurrection, God’s love wins out over death. It is an invitation to see ourselves redeemed in the reflection of God’s grace, as we hear our name called by the risen Lord, that we may go forth to share the good news, that Christ the Lord is risen today!
What’s your picture of God? Your relationship with God is always mediated by your mental picture of God. So your love and passion for God will never outrun the beauty of your picture of God. The beauty of your transformation will never outrun the beauty of your picture with God.