The following is the sixth installment in a weekly Lenten devotional for families, by Mary Jane Pierce Norton of the UMC’s Discipleship Ministries. We hope it helps you to know God a little better during these solemn forty days of repentance and preparation.
Week 5 – Week of April 2: The Meaning of the Cross
Scripture: John 11:1-57
Discussion & Activity: Read together John 11:1-57. You may want to divide this passage as follows for study and reflection in your family: John 11:1-16; John 11:17-37; John 11:38-44; John 11:45-57. We often stop our reading after Lazarus is raised from the dead. But the consequences of this action are explained in verses 45-57. And because we know the Easter story has to include Jesus’ death on the cross, it is helpful to realize that there were those who had decided that Jesus must die.
Sometimes it is hard for us to talk about Jesus dying on the cross. Because we know that he rose from the dead, we sometimes try to skip over his death. But this was what he was willing to do for people to know of God’s love and care for all.
Pass around the cross. Feel each part of the cross. Recall that the cross on which Jesus died was not a smooth, beautiful object like the ones we wear today. Think about the pain that was part of Jesus’ cross.
Ask each person in the family to say how it makes them feel to talk about Jesus dying on the cross. Remind one another that we use the sign of the cross to remember Jesus even today.
Another food that is part of the Lenten season is Hot Cross Buns. You can make these using prepared cinnamon roll dough or bread dough. Add a cross of white sugar frosting to the tops of the rolls. Eat these as a reminder that Jesus died so that all might know God.
O God: It is hard to think of Jesus, whom we love so much, being put to death on the cross.
And yet, when we look at the cross, we are reminded that he did this as a gift so that we might be forgiven of our sins.
Thank you for the gift of your son Jesus. Amen.