Journey to the Cross


Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

African-American spiritual


Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, home of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Lazarus and his sisters hosted a dinner for him. Martha served and Lazarus was among those who joined him at the table. Then Mary took an extraordinary amount, almost three-quarters of a pound, of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She anointed Jesus’ feet with it, then wiped his feet dry with her hair. The house was filled with the aroma of the perfume. Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), complained, “This perfume was worth a year’s wages! Why wasn’t it sold and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He carried the money bag and would take what was in it.)

Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone. This perfume was to be used in preparation for my burial, and this is how she has used it. You will always have the poor among you, but you won’t always have me.”

John 12:1-8


Imagine the emotions at this dinner at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. There had to be incredible joy around the table, because Jesus raised Lazarus from death. There is also unmistakable tension. Jesus is certainly aware of his own approaching death. Mary proves he is not alone. Judas Iscariot is clearly angry and cynical.

In the midst of all those emotions, Mary takes a very expensive perfume and uses it to anoint Jesus’ feet. Jesus describes it as an act to prepare him for burial. It is also an incredible act of beautiful love; an act that catches the room by surprise and invites everyone at the table to respond.

We live in a world that is filled with emotion. There is certainly celebration. But there is also fear within us and anger all around us. How are we being called to interrupt all of that emotion with acts of incredible love? How can you love generously today? Can you love so faithfully that the world around you is shocked?

Paul Baxley


Lord, in this angry and violent world, help me to love you and those around me with incredible beauty.

“Make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is darkness, help me sow light. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope.” (St. Francis of Assisi)



Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.

Isaac Watts in “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” (1707)