Jesus Christ (or Yeshua) of Nazareth is the most popular, famous, impactful, remarkable Man that ever lived. The fact that He was born at all is still the most significant event in this world’s history, more than 2000 years later! We even set our dates by His birth. He is the guy that everyone loves to love, and many love to hate too. It seems, everybody wants a piece of Him!
However, there is something very controversial about this Man, something that hinders His acceptance among many…but that is absolutely inseparable from His identity. Many wish He didn’t have such a stain on Him… If only He didn’t say things like that… If only He didn’t do that… If only He didn’t stand for that…
What is that? The Cross! Christ without the Cross is like a heart without a beat… Dead and useless! But so many would prefer Him that way. Even many who claim to believe in Him…
“Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matt 16:22-23).
The Cross of Christ, which was His greatest show of love to mankind, is also His greatest offence, and the reason why many cannot and will not follow Him (Rom 9:33). Because to everyone who comes to Him and wishes to be His disciple, He says “…deny yourself, take up your Cross and follow Me!” (Matt 16:24-25).
Not only did He believe that He had a cross to bear, and teach the principles of the Cross, He also told His followers that they also would bear crosses, and must live by the principles of the Cross (Luke 14:33). This is the mystery of losing to gain, dying to live, forgiving to restore, giving to have, serving to lead – and more such wisdom. It’s completely contrary with the world’s way of thinking (Matt 20:25-28, Rom 12:1-2, 1 Cor 1:25)!
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24).
More than a theory, Christ went on to practice what He preached. He placed so much importance on His death that some might accuse of Him of having delusions of grandeur or clinical paranoia! For a wise Man, who spoke with so much authority and love, He certainly must have had a screw loose somewhere to think that His death is the only means by which a whole world would be saved and reconciled to God!
Well, His prophecies about His death and resurrection were soon fulfilled. He had a chance to save Himself many times from those who wanted to kill Him. For one, He should have just stopped preaching all that “nonsense”, and they would have left Him alone. Or He could have denied who He really was, when they took Him captive. Or He could have used His power to dodge them, as He had done before (John 10:39)… But no, He didn’t want to resist what was His primary motivation for coming (John 3:16).
He wasn’t simply called or chosen for this grandiose task, He offered Himself freely (John 10:18, Heb 10:7)! It was His heart and passion to come and do what no one else could do. The Cross was more than a good idea to Him… It was more than a burden… It was more than an act of love. He is the Cross, in as much as He is the Word (John 1:1). He is the Living Revelation of this abstract concept of God (John 1:14). If He were to rescind from the Cross, He would not be Himself (2 Tim 2:13)…
So you see, as offensive as the Cross of Christ is, it is absolutely inseparable from who He is! The Cross is both the Love of God and the Wisdom of God! It is the Power of God that overcame the world, overcomes the world, and will yet overcome the world.
Only those who live the Cross, more than speaking it, are truly like their Saviour, Jesus Christ. Through their obedience to the Cross, they are made One with Him (John 14:23, John 17:21-23). And any who denies the Cross and its power to save have not known the Living God, nor His Christ.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16).
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