The Message of the Cross has Been Lost

The Cross is Missing

A cut-out of a cross; gold metal plate with a blue background.In our western culture and in other parts of the Christian world the true meaning of the cross of Christ has been lost. We worship Jesus’ death and resurrection, but we don’t follow in His footsteps.

Our hearts don’t mirror the heart of our Savior.

Jesus’ Early Life

For most of his time on earth, Jesus lived an ordinary life. He suffered from teething pain, bumps and bruises, hunger between meals, sunburn, skinned knees, callouses, aching muscles and wood splinters. He went to school, laughed and played with his brothers, worshiped in the Synagogue, and later learned professional carpentry skills from his dad.

He also experienced grief and loss. We don’t know when Joseph died, but the last mention of his earthly father occurs when Jesus was twelve years old. When Joseph died, the responsibility for supporting His family fell upon Jesus’ shoulders.

But His life was indistinguishable from most of the other people living in Nazareth.

Three stylized crosses against a green background.Then at the age of 30, everything changed.

Jesus’ Sudden New Ministry

Jesus started teaching about the kingdom of God, healing diseases and casting out demons. He gathered both dedicated disciples and curious crowds. He enjoyed His Heavenly Father’s protection and guidance. Even when he infuriated the Pharisees, Jesus won every encounter.

Except the last one.

By dying on the cross, our Savior followed the path His Heavenly Father had set in front of Him. Strangely enough, God will sometimes use the most evil of men to fulfill His will.

What is the Lost Message of the Cross?

A year or so ago, I read the following statement in a book:

The cross is the power of God, and it is the center of all that we are called to live by. You have so little power to transform the minds and hearts of the disciples now because you do not live, and do not preach, the cross. (Page 136, The Final Quest by Rick Joyner)

This paragraph went on to say that’s the reason why there is so little visible difference between the lives of the Christians and the lives of unbelievers.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was stumped. What is the neglected message of the cross?

Finally I got it.

A rough wooden cross with a chain wrapped around it. There are three lessons of the cross that we often neglect:

  • A Life of Prompt, Complete Obedience to God
  • A Life of Self-Sacrifice
  • A Life of Denying Self

Ouch. I’m not good at denying myself—I’m a pampered, self-indulgent American believer, who pays way too much attention to the whining of her fleshly nature. I’m not doing too well on the other two points either.

But I want to.

Do you know what I think the Christian life is supposed to be?

Think about this analogy: imagine a highly-trained horse, immensely powerful and intelligent, yet totally committed to obeying his rider’s lightest touch. That horse has a will, but his whole focus is to please the master who rides him. To serve the one he loves.

The Heavenly Father’s Will

Like the analogy of the well-trained horse, our eternal Redeemer lived a life focused on what God wanted Him to do—and for 29 years, God wanted Jesus to be:

  • A little boy who ran and played with other little boys.
  • A small student, learning to read the scriptures in Hebrew school.
  • A kind big brother.
  • A faithful, loving son.
  • A smart, hard-working boy apprenticed in his father’s carpentry workshop.
  • A compassionate young man, reaching out in ordinary ways to help hurting people.
  • A strong provider, supporting and helping His mother after Joseph died.

During an Ash Wednesday service, a minister's thumb draws a cross on a boy's forehead using ashes.God calls us to follow Him in ordinary life. We learn to obey our Heavenly Father in little ways. Making small sacrifices, giving away things we selfishly want to keep and interrupting our lives at inconvenient times to help people who are hurting.

It’s all training in righteousness. We learn to listen to the quiet guidance of the Holy Spirit—He’ll guide our steps as we learn to walk more and more closely with Him. When we form a habit of obedience, we are ready to step out in greater ways to fulfill God’s purpose.

A strange fact just occurred to me—make of it whatever you want to.

Some other Jewish carpenter probably built the cross on which Jesus died.

All images came from Pixabay.com.

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