Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Commitment of the Cross

Travel back with me around 1,971 years to Golgotha where the Romans have just nailed a barely recognisable Jesus to one of their instruments of death- a cross. There we stand, watching.

Imagine we are gentiles living among the Israelites prior to this fateful day. We have been witnesses of Jesus Christ and His ministry for the better part of three years already. Being gentiles, we usually stood from a distance observing the activities of this great man whom many people called the Messiah. Clearly, He was special. His words transcended time, His demeanor was gentle, yet authoritative and sure, and he did miraculous things never before seen. Time after time He healed people and showed an unparalleled compassion on those society had cast off. Now, He is on a Roman cross of execution, about to die.

Just a few months prior to this day on Golgotha, we witnessed Jesus raise a man named Lazarus from the dead- a man who was in the grave for four days. Jesus, by just a few words of his mouth, raised this dead, partially decayed man to life. Despite this, His own Jewish leaders plotted to kill him. Why would they do something bad to Him- the one who raised the dead? We had not seen Jesus for some time after that miracle. Then, we received word from a towns person related to one of His disciples that Jesus had been arrested. We decided to send one from our midst to find out more. From a distance our scout observes a mockery of a trial. As Jesus is shuffled from Jewish authorities to Roman authorities, back to the "Jewish" King and back to the Romans again, it becomes clear- Jesus will not survive the game of politics and religion going on between to unrighteous groups. The One who had done so much good, the One who had shown so much love, was sentenced to die. Why would they kill Jesus? It seems so senseless.

But wait, we were there to hear Him teach many times. Do you remember Him telling his disciples and the crowd we were part of- "let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you"? What is happening now? Was He wrong? Perhaps this is actually part of his promise?

We know this much for sure- it was now time for the Jewish Passover. The day a lamb was to be offered as a sacrifice for the sins of God's people. The irony strikes us when Jesus walked by carrying a cross. He is the lamb of God. We watched the Soldiers and crowd jeer Jesus. They spit on him as He passed by. We heard Him cry out as the soldiers pound spikes through His wrists, severing nerves. Then through his feet, tearing muscle. By a system of ropes they hoist Jesus up high on the cross. It is 9 in the morning when Jesus is put on the cross. We stay there watching him. At 12 noon darkness filled the land. The air grew cold.

We stand there through 3 hours of darkness bringing us to this moment. It's about 3pm and Jesus is saying something- "into thy hands I commit thy spirit". The sky is still dark and much of the crowd has scattered in fear. We stand staring at the Savior on the cross. We analyze His final words amongst ourselves- "into thy hands I commit thy spirit". What exactly did Jesus mean?

As we stand together looking upon the body of our Savior in our minds eye, I would like to suggest to you that the Cross is about commitment. Not our commitment, but God's commitment. God's ultimate commitment is to bring glory to Himself. Connected with this commitment is the glorification of Jesus Christ, His Son. This means, for us who are united to Christ by faith, that God has made a commitment to us personally, since we are in union with Christ. Over the next three days I will meditate on three commitments God has made to us, for the glory of His Son.


Frontier Forest said...

Dearest Pastor, I too stand and look upward at the cross. I long to hear your thoughts and meditate over the 3 underserved commitments our Sovereign and Merciful God of abundant and endless Grace has made unto me. But until I hear your words of hope, and eternal joy unspeakable, I must reflect on the pain I can only see. Yet I know so little about His pain.
We can only wonder of His tormenting dehydration, His exhaustion from lack of sleep and being abused, dragged place to place, the terrible scourging, the beatings, being spit upon, the pulling of the beard, the crown of thorns thrusts into his brow, His agony over being deserted… at a time when He so needed friends. But now He is on the cross. He has suffered hours of endless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, and searing pain as tissue is torn off His lacerated back, from trying to breathe. Every pushing movement, up and down, against the rough timbers of the cross, has ripped off what little flesh has remained attached to the exposed bones in His back. Now even greater agony seems to have began, suffocation! Literally drowning in body fluids. The deep crushing pain in the chest as the sac surrounding the heart, slowly filling with serum, compressing the heart to the point of exploding!
Now, standing in darkness, I reflect on the fulfillment prophecy in Psalm 22:14. “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”
O the refreshing balm, the soothing joy in realizing, “And while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting (committing) Himself to Him who judges righteously. And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” (I Peter 2:23-24)

Kampfgruppe Hoppa said...

We are surely saved by works...the work of one man; he who was without sin, perfect, righteous, "vere homo, vere deus". All praise and glory to King Jesus!