May 18, 2018: The Joy of the Cross

Luke 9:23-25 (NIV)
23  Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

Galatians 6:14 (NIV)
14  May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

The cross in Jesus day was an instrument of death and death of the most gruesome kind. How is it that he chose this picture as a way to invite others to follow him?  Who would ever choose an electric chair as a symbol of what you get when you chose to follow them?  Something must be hidden in this symbol of death that Jesu calls us to pick up.

What does the cross remind us of?  What pictures come to mind when you think of the cross?  I first see death, death in all of its ugliness and horror.  But as I continue to meditate on the cross something else begins to slowly come into focus.  I see all of my sins, all of my failings, all of my moments of rebellion and wickedness rise to the surface and come into full view on the cross.  I see a hideous picture of what my sin truly is and looks like.  I see it for all of its gruesome evil.

O, but dear Saint of God, I see something else come into view on the cross.  I see all of my sin slowly being covered over by something far more glorious.  I see the perfect spotless Lamb of God being placed on that cross and I see his blood flowing down over all my sin.  As  the blood flows, I hear my savior cry out, “Father forgive him he does not know what he is doing.”

Something now more marvelous than words can describe begins to take place.  In the place where my sin once was in clear view, I see a spotless radiant light burning up the record of my sin, it continues to burn brightly with a white heat that is hotter than any furnace on earth could be heated.  As I contemplate the cross all the things of this world that held me down, all the things that stole life from me are slowly burned up, my chains are melted away, the rags of my own filthiness are consumed by the white-hot fire of God’s holiness.

As the nails are driven in my savior’s body I find my hands now free.  As the sword pierces my savior’s side all the vile evil that lies within now flows out to be destroyed by his wounded side.  My heart is free to love him, my hands are free to praise him, my feet are free to dance.

Dear Saints, let us embrace the cross today as that which destroys the things of the world that hold us down and let us rejoice and revel in is Cross by which the world and all of its power is burned up.

 

Someone once said it this way, “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I am free at least!”

Embracing the Cross and all of its glory,

 

Pastor Phil

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