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Home The Light Articles from 2010 The Awareness of the Cross

The Awareness of the Cross

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As I turned toward the east, there was a cloud before me with the setting sunshine on it. On that cloud, there was a form of a cross. It stood outlined against the sky. It was per­fectly formed for some time. It was very impressive. The first thought that came to my mind was the words of a song, "The emblem of suffering and shame." Our Lord hung on the cross, suffering terrible agony. Isaiah 53:3 says, "He is despised and rejected of men: a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not." When Jesus hung on the cross, the people mocked him. Matthew 27:39-40 says, "And they that passed by reviled him, wag­ging their heads and saying, thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross." How hard and cruel they were to make fun of his agony. Verses 41-42 continue the mockery, "Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes   and   elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will be­lieve him." All this was the fulfilling of Christ's mission. Isaiah 53:11 says, "He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniqui­ties." We should, by this, understand the awfulness of sin in God's eyes! Jesus fulfilled all the prophesies, even Psalms 69:21, "They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." After this he said, "It is finished." What a relief it must have been to know the physical suffering was over. He then said, "Fa­ther, into thy hands I commend my spirit." The life of rejection, sorrow, and pain was ended.

Three days later, he would return to and inhabit the body of flesh and come forth from the grave, thus proving the truth of his words, "I have power to lay down my life and take it up again." He proved to his disciples that he had returned in the flesh. When he ap­peared among them they were fright­ened and supposed they had seen a spirit. "And he said to them, why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Luke 24:38-39). Then as further proof that he was indeed human, he asked for food and ate before them, he was our Lord in the flesh. Thomas the doubter was convinced and said, "My Lord and my God." Jesus said, "Thomas, be­cause thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29). This blessing is upon us for we often sing, "We walked not with the chosen few, who saw thee from the earth ascend, yet we believe." Yes, we believe the words of the angels who said in Acts 1:11, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."

Jesus Christ went to Jerusalem knowing what would happen. In Mat­thew 20:18-19, he told the twelve, "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again." This time they accepted what he said. In Matthew 16:21-22 when he said the same things Peter rebuked him. Verse 23 says, "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." No one really understood the mission of Christ. They thought in terms of a fleshly kingdom. In Acts 1:6 they asked, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" Jesus came to do his Father's will. He was given the responsibility for the redemption of men by dying on the cross. Thus the cross is a symbol of responsibility. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Notice,  "His cross daily"; we are daily responsible for our own salvation. No one but the Son of God could be a suitable sacri­fice for our sins. No one else can fulfill our responsibility. Paul assures us in Romans 14:12, "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." Then in Romans 2:6, "Who will render to every man according to his deeds." Being saved requires personal decision   and  sacrifice.   Jesus   said, "Deny himself." Paul wrote in Romans 6:6, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." We must alter our Jives to conform to that of Christ. 1st Peter 2:21 tells us, "For even here­unto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an ex­ample, that ye should follow in his steps." Paul said of Christ in Philippians 2:8, "He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

"If is a very big word. If the Jews had listened and obeyed, their history would have been different. True, they would have had to start when they shook the sand of the Red Sea off their feet. Paul wrote in Romans 10:21, "But to Israel he saith, all day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people." In Jeremiah 3:12 the prophet said, "Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you." God's love for them and for the rest of mankind ex­ceeds our understanding. David said in Psalms 24:1, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." The words of this song come to mind,  "God so loved, what wondrous measure, loved and gave the best of heaven." Is it any wonder that Jesus beheld Jerusalem and wept? He said, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes." Why were they hid from their eyes? Jesus said in Matthew 13:15, "Their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed." This was deliberate rejection.

The cross is also a sign of ven­geance. Matthew 27:24-25 says of Pilate, "He took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children." Yes, Jesus was the innocent hung on the cross according to their demands. He had shown signs and done wonders before them. Their reaction was in John 11:47-48, "What do we? For this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation." They wor­ried about their exalted position. They were concerned about their nation. Their carnal mind was not subject to God. When God's vengeance came, they lost all. The Romans crucified as many as 500 Jews in a day. Then they totally destroyed Jerusalem. Jesus warned them in Luke 19:43-44, "For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." God had said, "Ven­geance is mine, I will repay." God's vengeance is not revenge. It is justice.  They had crucified His son, thus reject­ing their messiah. They had said, "His blood be on us and on our children!" We serve a God who will render to every man according to his deeds. If we reject His gifts of love and mercy, we will learn of His wrath.

The cross also represents eternal salvation. Hebrews 5:8-9 tells us, "Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suf­fered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." Jesus was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death. Hebrews 2:10 says, "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering." Jesus knew man and what was in man. He knew the love and what it con­tained. At twelve years of age he as­tounded the learned men in the temple with his understanding and answers to their questions. He came to qualify himself for the position of high priest. He had to learn what it was to obey God when that obedience brought suffering. He had never been tempted by the desires of the flesh. Hebrews 2:17-18 says, "Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merci­ful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconcilia­tion for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." Without the death of Christ, we would have no hope of redemption. Hebrews 9:22 tells us, "Without shedding of blood is no re­mission." Many do not understand the message of the cross. Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians 1:18, "for the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolish­ness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." The gospel cannot be preached without the teaching of the cross. It is part of the gospel. Paul wrote in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth." In Galatians 6:14 he wrote, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Paul truly bore the cross daily. He said, "In every city bonds and af­flictions abide me."

The cross is also a symbol of the everlasting spiritual priesthood. We faltering, stumbling mortals must have an intercessor between us and God. Exodus 32 tells how the Israelites sinned and angered God. Exodus 32:9-10 says, "And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff necked people: now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation." Moses stood fast and interceded for Israel. In verse 32 he said, "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written." God said in verse 33, "Who­soever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book." God spared Israel at that time because of Moses' intercession.

Israel turned away from God and He was angry. Isaiah 59:16 says, "He wondered that there was no interces­sor." Jesus came to be our intercessor. Moses passed away, but Hebrews 7:24-25 tells us, "But this man, be­cause he continueth forever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make interces­sion for them." He understands us. Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmi­ties; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." "Oh the love that drew salvation's plan! Oh the grace that brought it down to man!" -105 E. Jefferson, Richland, MO 65556



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