Looking At The Cross

I’m not here to proselytize,
no, we will never be moved from our positions and convictions by mere words.
9 times out of 10 most will never be “saved” by signs on billboards saying “Jesus Saves”
or by a “Preacher” on a soapbox with a bullhorn.
No, none of these things seem to penetrate the heart.
None of these things contributes to the glory of God…
it only adds to the noise.

pathIt’s a slow walk…
This path towards the cross.
The place where Jesus was killed was literally called the place of the skull because it looked like a skull cap.
It was never pretty.
Death. Is. Not. Pretty.
Even when the Son of God faced death…it was not pretty.

Death is brutal. death
Death has its claws into the sides of humanity and many learn to fear it.
Even Jesus prayed for the “cup to be taken from Him” while in the garden of Gethsemane, yet He was still faithful and He still went through with it.

BloodBlood was spilled.
People spat in His face.
A crown of thorns was forced upon Jesus’ head…
more blood was spilled.
The path that Jesus walked is called the ‘Via Dolorosa’ which means “the way of suffering” or “the way of sorrow”.
No, this was not, by its own a rite, a “glorious” day…and yet we look at the cross,
we explore His gruesome execution,
we peal back the “polished” veneer of the cross’ description,
and we discover just how much our Father in Heaven desires to rescue and redeem us from our sin tattered lives.

We linger here…
we must not overlook its importance and its horror.cross1
Divine carnage, blood, suffering, pain.
We ought not turn our eyes away too quickly in order to get to the “good stuff”… just yet.

Divine love was broken and spilled out for us.
His blood became our atonement.
His sacrifice our salvation.
His willingness our redemption.
Perhaps THIS, above all else, speaks louder than any of our “big” words could.
Perhaps THIS, the mark of suffering could capture the hardened heart.
nailsPerhaps THIS, is where healing can take place…
if only Christians would get this.
if only we would live this.
if only we would “take our crosses” (no really) and selflessly follow Him.
I’m not being preachy here,
I’m listening to the groaning of my own heart
and this truth rings out in me.

So I look at the cross…cross2                                                                              for a little bit longer.

Were these the “Final” words?

 

You are drowning. The tide has pulled you under and the turbulent waters are unforgiving. Panic rapidly sets in and you are wide-eyed and fighting to break the surface. Suddenly, panic gives way to dread as the realization sinks in that there is nothing that you can do to save yourself, you are doomed. Just as you give up all hope, surrendering to your fate, a strong hand plunges into the dark depths of the waters and pulls you to safety. You have been saved from certain death and the task of the one who has saved you is finished, yet you will forever be in their debt for coming to your rescue.
When all hope of finding true forgiveness of sin seemed gone, Jesus came. When we were drowning in the depths of the dark and murky waters of sin, His hand broke through and saved us. His mission took Him to the cross for us and became our one and only source of salvation.

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The images of the cross are by no means for the weak of heart. For with these images carries the burdens of sin and humanity as well as the pain and the agony of Jesus Christ. He suffered and died, but the image of the cross should also bring with it hope, resurrection, new life and peace! It was God reaching down into humanity and providing for us a way to safety.
When viewing the cross we sometimes focus on the pain and suffering and in so doing we possibly lose sight of Jesus’ victory and our eternal hope! It was divinely appointed, never on accident, purposeful in every way. Sin and death had held humanity in a stranglehold since the fall of Adam and Eve. We were drowning in our sin. But after Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection, nevermore would death have the final say! Was there suffering? Of course! But with Jesus’ final words, he spoke forth and breathed hope back into humanity’s lungs. With His final words He plucked us up out of the depths and completed our saving.
“It is finished”; He utters, loudly enough to be heard by those who had gathered there. What is finished? Life? No, not life, death is finished. The threat of eternal death is finished for those who would seek after Him. Hopelessness in this world is also finished. When Jesus declared that it was finished, He was declaring ultimate victory over sin! Mission accomplished! Game over for Satan’s death grip on mankind’s souls!
What joy and hope there is in knowing such a Savior! His declaration is for all of humanity! He was not defeated on the cross; instead He declared victory from the cross and from the grave! He was not emptied and destroyed by sin but instead was filled with salvation and love for the sinner. Jesus had finished the ultimate battle, and His trophy would be the embrace of the seekers as they reached the very steps of Eternity. On the cross Jesus ripped open the veil of death and wiped away the transgressions from you and from me. On the cross, visceral pain and suffering occurred, yet life began anew. We were rescued! On the cross, Jesus declared “It is finished” new life has now begun!

“In the Cross is salvation; in the Cross is life; in the Cross is protection against our enemies; in the Cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness; in the Cross is strength of mind; in the Cross is joy of spirit; in the Cross is excellence of virtue; in the Cross is perfection of holiness. There is no salvation of soul, nor hope of eternal life, save in the Cross.” ― Thomas a’ Kempis, “The Inner Life”

 

 

One Day

One day
Life became
Death
Breath became
Stilled silence
Calm
Became storm
Whole
Became broken
Wounds
Became fatal
One
Solitary
Day
Sure Judgement
Became Salvation
Real punishment
Because absolute
Redemption

One day
Innocent
Became guilty
Perfect
Was painted
With the blood
Of others
The burdens
Of others
One day
Became everyday
Every promise
Every day hope
Every day
New life
Reborn
Reanimation
Of the dead

One day
Became
Our tomorrow
Instead of
Our past

One day
With Christ
Will open
Our hopes
Transform our
Brokenness
Restore our
Reflections
And make us
Complete
Again.

Portrait of Jesus

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On the walls of our living hang pictures.  Not just any pictures or pictures of people we don’t know but pictures of my family.  My Mom and Dad are there, my Wife is there, my children are there and other extended family members.  This wall is dear to me.  Not because it holds up a portion of the house that houses my tv, but because within these pictures is captures a moment frozen in time.  A moment in which my family are smiling, looking silly, perhaps with teeth still missing as kids, but moments that have come and gone.  Sweet moments, joyous moments and I treasure them in my heart every time I see them. 

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Today is Good Friday.  Probably not exactly a joyous moment when we reflect on Christ on a cross, bloody, beaten and dying.  It’s not a pretty picture to behold.  We probably don’t have pictures of Jesus this way on our wall, in full color naked and bleeding on the cross.  Perhaps you have some crucifix’s a portrait or two that resembles his death on the cross, but I doubt that it’s an unedited portrayal of his actual death scene…which I imagine was extremely grizzly to behold.  Yet there is something joyous within this moment in our Savior’s death.  It’s not that He suffered, or that finally they caught those two criminals hanging there next to Jesus, but it’s the fact that sin and death were nailed to the cross with Christ.

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Our sin, our eternal death was taken from us by Christ on the cross.  With the shedding of His blood, which was perfect, we now can call on His name and our sinful ways can be atoned for.  We have one who intercedes for us before the Father.  This portrait is the best we have ever received…ever!  Eternal life is ours, death conquered, and hope available to the entire world all because of Jesus.  

My photos on the wall are awesome, I love my family and I love my kids…but this life we live has been extended and eternal life granted to us, including my loved ones because of what we celebrate today…Christ crucified.  

Question:  Do you identify with this crucified Christ?  

I hope and pray you do, if not perhaps it’s time to consider what life is about, where you’re going at the moment and if there is meaning to what you are doing today.  

 

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