Family Life at the Foot of the Cross
Yesterday we celebrated Easter. During the weeks leading up to Easter, I spend time thinking about Christ’s death on the cross and His victorious resurrection on Easter morning. As I meditate on these events, I recall hearing people speak about living in the shadow of the cross. This year, though, I thought about family. I contemplated what it would mean for our family to live in the shadow of the cross. How would family life change at the foot of the cross? Living at the foot of the cross promotes a healthy family life. Here are just 5 of the powerful lessons families can learn at the foot of the cross.
Give Sacrificially: Jesus gave sacrificially to restore an intimate relationship between His creation and His Father. He gave up His home in heaven. He gave up His reputation. He gave up His eternal nature as Creator to take on the nature of a servant. While on earth, He gave up His heavenly authority and submitted to the authority of His earthly parents and His Heavenly Father. Ultimately, Jesus gave up His life on the cross to make it possible for us to become sons and daughters of His Father. Giving sacrificially to our family promotes security, unity, and peace. Recent research suggests that 50% of married couples who report giving generously (sacrificially) to their family are “very happy” (sacrificially) while only 14% of those who do not give generously are happy. Give yourself to your family as Jesus gave Himself for us.
Share Kindness: As Jesus hung on the cross, He asked John to care for His mother and His mother to accept John into the family. Even as He suffered, Jesus made sure that His family was cared for. Jesus exhibited a deep kindness and compassion for His mother in this act of kindness. Families that live at the foot of the cross do the same; they share kindness and compassion with one another. They take action to meet one another’s needs. Their actions reveal that relationships matter, family is important, family members are valued. Show compassion to your family. Reach out in kindness to meet your family’s needs.
Forgive: Jesus also asked His Father to “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus could have easily harbored anger, bitterness, and resentment at the cross. Instead, He gave those who crucified Him the benefit of the doubt (“they know not what they do”) and offered them forgiveness. He forgave those who treated Him harshly. His forgiveness opened the door to reconciliation, restored peace, and invited intimacy. At the foot of the cross, we offer forgiveness when family members offend us, hurt us, or treat us harshly. The shadow of the cross shines brightly on a forgiving spirit and brings peace, restored intimacy, and deeper love to the forgiving family.
Trust in the Father’s Care: Jesus proclaimed, “Into Your hands I commit My Spirit.” He rested in His Father’s love. He gave His troubled spirit and anguished life into His Father’s care. Families living at the foot of the cross can give their troubled spirits, their worries and concerns, their anxieties and fears into the Father’s care as well. We can rest in the assurance that our Heavenly Father will care for our whole family. We can rest in His love for our family, knowing that He will never leave us, even in the midst of dire circumstances.
Hope for Tomorrow: Jesus could “endure the cross” and “despise the shame” because of the “joy set before Him.” He knew that Friday looked bleak, the cross appeared victorious, and His life seemed to be slipping away…but, Sunday would bring renewed hope. Sunday would bring new life, new assurance, and new joy. Families that live at the foot of the cross live in the assurance and hope of Sunday. They live with the assurance that our Heavenly Father ultimately has all things in His control and, because of that assurance, we can move into the future with a “joy set before us.”
I realize that Easter Sunday is past, but the hope and assurance of Christ’s resurrection lives on at the foot of the cross. When families give sacrificially, share kindness, offer forgiveness, and trust in the Father’s care they find the assurance of greater family intimacy and joy each day…all at the foot of the cross.