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Jesus and the Cross

Jesus met a flurry of resistance that was as strong as what can be seen in nature’s fury where total devastation can occur (floods, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, tornados, cyclones, volcanic eruptions).  Instead of being accepted, Jesus was rebuked, ridiculed and rejected.  He experienced anger, hatred, torture and death like no other individual who has walked this planet; and yet, there seems to be a consensus of people today who say that this was all part of “God’s Plan” from the beginning of time.  And even the violence, atrocities and horrible things that man can do to other human beings (wars, killings, physical abuse, and even verbal put-downs) are thought to be God-ordained.  It’s almost like God promotes every possible kind of evil to advance his cause, and that everything that happens has God’s nod of approval.  God knew these events would take place; therefore, everything is playing out according to his will.  The ultimate example of this is the crucifixion of Jesus, his Son.  With such mind-set then, it is a heart-rending situation to believe that God has acknowledged, instigated, sanctioned and confirmed what has been described above.  Are these really God’s thoughts and his attitude toward us?  What kind of a God would do such gross acts of violence?  Can a God like that be trusted?

The death of Jesus on the Cross is the primary focal point for many people who study scripture and have a strong interest in God.  The Cross becomes so important that many carry the symbol of the Cross with them where ever they go.  It is almost like it serves as a badge of protection that keeps them safe from any kind of harm.  It also can be viewed as a visual adornment or a sign of their devotion to God.   Do people worship the Cross?  Do people make an idol of the Cross?   Is there any similarity between worshiping the Cross and what happened in the Wilderness when the people who left Egypt made a golden calf?  Has the Cross become a modern-day shrine of Molech, a star of the god Rephan?   Has the symbol of the Cross displaced something of more value?  Perhaps the following scripture from John’s gospel can shed some light on this.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John 1:1-5.

  • Can anyone receive forgiveness of sins without Jesus dying on the Cross?

Absolutely.  Examples of people receiving forgiveness before Jesus died:

    1. The paralytic man.  Matt. 9:2; Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20
    2. A sinful woman.  Luke 7:48
    3. God is a forgiving God.   Nehemiah 9:17
    4. With the Lord there is forgiveness.    Psalm 130:4
    5. The Lord will hear and forgive their sin.    2 Chronicles 7:14
  • Can anyone receive eternal life without Jesus dying on the Cross?

Absolutely.  Examples of Jesus giving eternal life before he died:

    1. Jesus talks with the woman at the well.  John 4:10, 14
    2. Jesus talks with Jews.  John 5:21, 24, 26, 40
    3. Jesus, the Bread of Life.  John 6:27,33,35,40,47,48,51,54,58,63,68
    4.  Jesus speaks to people.  John 8:12
    5.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd.  John 10:10, 28
    6.  Jesus talks with Martha.  John 11:25, 26
    7.  Jesus speaks to people.  John 12:49, 50
    8.  Jesus prays to the Father.  John 17:2, 3
    9. Jesus speaks to the disciples.  John 20:30, 31
    10. Jesus speaks with Nicodemus.  John 3:16
  • Can sinners be reunited with the Father and be reconciled to him without Jesus dying on the Cross?

Absolutely.  God is love (1 John 4:16); God and Jesus are exactly the same (John 14:7, 9); Jesus is the exact representation of his Father. (Heb. 1:3).  Jesus gives life by making his Father known to those willing to listen, and when this information is accepted into a person’s belief system, reconciliation and unity take place.

  • Does Jesus’ death on the Cross mean that everyone will be saved? 

Absolutely not.  When Jesus died on the Cross, he said: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”  Luke 23:34.  Even though Jesus and God are forgiveness personified, forgiveness does not transform people from sinners into saints.  The death of Jesus reveals the character of God, that he will not retaliate or punish anyone, including those who demanded that Jesus die.  Salvation does not depend upon the death of Jesus.

  • Is there anything more important than Jesus’ death on the Cross?

Yes, there is!  The words that Jesus spoke and his demonstration of the Father are proof of Jesus’ mission to reveal the truth about God and himself. 

  1. Many of the Samaritans from that town (Sychar) believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”  So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days.  And because of his words many more became believers.   John 4:39-41.
  2. Jesus said: “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”     John 6:63.
  3. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”   John 6:68, 69.
  4. Jesus said: “I know you are Abraham’s descendants.  Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word.”  John 8:37
  5. Jesus said: “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.”   John 12:48.
  6. Jesus said: “The words I say to you are not just my own.  Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”  “These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” John 14:10, 24.
  7. Jesus prayed to his Father: “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world.  They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.  Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.  For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.”    John 17:6-8.

Tragically, the words Jesus spoke is what caused his death because Jesus would never lie, nor would he deny who he was.  It seems ridiculous to believe that Jesus just died and said nothing.  Acceptance of the words that Jesus spoke leads to eternal life; accordingly, the rejection of those same words leads to death, even the death of the Son of God.  Jesus didn’t just die on the Cross.  Insane religious people killed him because they hated what he did and what he said to them. 

In the Bible, especially in the book of Revelation where heavenly scenes of God’s throne and the city of New Jerusalem are described, there is not a hint or any mention of a Cross to be found anywhere.  Yes, the crucifixion did take place; yes, Jesus died; yes, Jesus died on the Cross, but the words that Jesus spoke take priority over everything else that happened. 

It seems fitting that at the end of Jesus’ prayer to his heavenly Father he would say these words:

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.  I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:25, 26

While standing in Pilate’s court shortly before the crucifixion, the following conversation is recorded,

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered. “You are right in saying I am a king.  In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:37

On the Mount of Transfiguration, a voice from the cloud said,
“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.  Listen to him!” Matt. 17:5

While talking with the disciples on the Mount of Olives, Jesus said,
“Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matt. 24:35

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom that God destined for our glory before time began.  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:6-8

The last sentence of the above quote from Corinthians is a powerful and revealing statement about the wisdom and intelligence of knowing right from wrong, and how that knowledge pertains to Jesus and his crucifixion.  May God in Heaven help us all to listen and understand what Jesus and the Cross are all about.

Dear God,
I’m glad, Jesus, that you represented the Father’s character to us, otherwise we may not have known for sure what you and he were like. 
I’m sorry, Jesus, that you experienced pain, rejection, and death as a result of telling the truth about God and making him known.
RPS

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