In my last post, I expressed some of my personal lament for my unfamiliarity with the most memorable events to the Lord Jesus as He walked the earth. The most precious moments that come to His mind often are probably those of His arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Many Christians can recount the details of their favorite movie with more precision than they can the most precious memories of the Lord. If you’re as pained as I am by that fact, you may be asking “well, how do I change that?” I want to take just a couple of more posts on this topic to address the obstacles to enjoying true intimacy and fellowship with Jesus at the Cross.

The first barrier we come up against in truly growing in friendship with Jesus related to the Cross is simply unfamiliarity and ignorance. For most of us, we have only a very superficial knowledge of the events of those three days. We can talk about the general themes and broad strokes of the Passion narrative, but the details of the story elude us simply because of a lack of diligence in study. The solution is as simple as the reason we are foggy on the details; we must devour every detail of the story, the setting, the culture, and the context until His Cross moves from a hazy progression of events in our minds to a clear, flowing, coherent story. We must know the people, places, and sequence in both the simplicity of the structure and in the depth of the details.

At first glance, one would think that intellectual study of history - the setting and the details of the story of the Cross - would be unfruitful for actually fellowshipping with Jesus through His most precious memories. But if we don’t know the events and details, how can we expect to actually enjoy any depth of communion with Him? To say that this is still possible with longevity and focus is like saying that it’s fully possible for a man and woman to step into a perfect marriage for the rest of their lives on the same day they meet. Though the study of the details may seem tedious, dry, and difficult at times, knowledge has a surprisingly powerful effect on our soul and our capacity for contemplation of the Cross.

So, where should we begin?

Several resources have been very helpful for me to study the setting of Jesus’ life, the culture and customs, the mindset, and the story of Him:

The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah – Alfred Edersheim

Four Portraits, One Jesus – Mark Strauss

In the next article in this series, I’ll talk about the other barrier I see in growing in intimacy with Jesus over the cross – distance.