The image of Christ carrying His cross, leaving Jerusalem for the place of crucifixion, escorted by some of his disciples and relatives, is one of total shame and disgrace. But Christ endured it for the sake of the joy that lay before Him (Heb 12:2). This was the most climactic hour of Christ’s life, the hour of his departure with no return. This hour had been known in advance in all of heaven and had been spoken of by the spirits of the Old Testament saints, awaiting the world’s redemption: “And behold two men talked with Him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Lk 9:30-31).
His exit from Jerusalem corresponded to His departure from the present world. The cross was the instrument of crossing over from this world to the eternal world. Departing from ths world is not fulfilled in a natural way by those who have hated the world and denied it, because the world inevitably takes revenge against those who have scorned it and shamed it: “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (John 15:18-20).
Jesus said these words before He went to the cross, before the judgement, before the revealing of the plan to arrest Him and fabricate accusations against Him, before calling in false witnesses, before the desertion of His disciple (which illustrates how the world uses those who are closest to us to torture saints’ souls). Christ knew well what the hatred and the envy of this world had prepared for Him; the plan to torture Him and get rid of Him: “Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him… “(Lk 18:31-33); “Then Jesus knowing all that was to befall Him, came forward” (Jn 18:4).
It is important for us to know that Christ was not surprised by the world’s behaviour towards Him. He Himself taught His disciples that the world will conflict with everything that does not belong to it. The world inevitably disdains those who disdain it, and mocks everyone who mocks it. This is the inevitable consequence of departure from this world.
[Fr Matta El-Meskeen, Christ is Risen Truly He has Risen]