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Topic: Cross (as in the Cross of Christ) (08/17/06)
- TITLE: The Cross, Up Close and Personal
By Ernest Yoder
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Do the violence of the cross of Christ and the sacrifices of personal cross bearing influence us to shy away from the thought of the cross?
“On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross,” is starkly beautiful in the opening lyrics of the song, but it places the cross in a distant place. However, a powerful message emerges in the refrain. “I will cling to the old rugged cross,” removes it from a distant setting and brings it up close and personal. While obviously we are unable to be transported to the time or place of the crucifixion of our Lord, it is important for us to grasp a sense of the immediate proximity of His cross to our personal salvation.
When I was much younger my concept of God was that of a Being in the sky far away and somewhat unapproachable. Jesus was of long ago history and to be a follower of Him necessitated faithfulness to certain rituals and ceremonies. When I discovered the intimacy of salvation (Jesus said, “I stand at the door and knock. If any man will open unto Me, I will come in and sup with Him and he with Me.”) I also began to discover what it means to be intimate with the cross. It is spiritually counterproductive to avoid cross bearing. As my Lord bore His cross so I should follow His advice and bear my own. It is interesting to note that He was speaking to His followers about this subject even before He experienced the cross of Calvary. (Ex. Mt.10:38, Mk.8:34) I wonder what questions were running through their minds.
Our cross bearing experience, to a lesser extent of course, parallels that of our Lord’s. It can be anything that challenges us to give up our desires and even our lives for the sake of Christ. The cross and all that it represented was excruciatingly painful to Jesus in a number of ways. He was physically unable to stand up to the load of bearing His cross. Another aided Him. It was a reminder of God’s curse. (“(A)nyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse.” Du. 21:23, NIV) It was the instrument of His mortality. The cross was of the earth and represented earthly man’s hostility to the things of God. The cross’s perceived effects may be negative but invariably they turn out to be positives.
Most importantly the cross of Christ also was a bridge to a glorious victory over the enemy, the devil and death. This victory as a part of “God’s secret wisdom” is so eternally momentous that, had God’s enemies understood it, “they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1Co.2:7-8, NIV) Had there been no cross there would have been no resurrection. Had there been no resurrection there would be no hope. Our faith would be futile and we would still be in an unredeemed state. (1 Co.15:13-17) Instead of avoiding the cross because of the unpleasant experiences it brings to mind we should embrace it for the eternal victory it brought to us in the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus.
I’m sure more parallels could be extracted from this topic. It should be a source of great encouragement to us to realize that the struggles we experience in our Christian lives on this earth, our cross bearing, can be translated into victories in this life and a glorious eternal life. The cross is our bridge from here to there. Instead of avoiding it let’s cling to it.
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