Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Power Of The Cross

by Rev. Johnny Wong

Crucifixion was a feared and shameful form of execution. The victim was forced to carry his cross along the longest possible route to the crucifixion site as a warning to bystanders. There were several shapes for crosses and several different methods of crucifixion. Jesus was nailed to the cross; condemned men were sometimes tied to their crosses with ropes. In either case, death came by suffocation as the person lost strength and the weight of the body made breathing more and more difficult.

Jesus could have saved himself, but he endured the suffering because of his love for us. He could have chosen not to take the pain and humiliation; he could have killed those who mocked him – but he suffered through it all because he loved even his enemies.

How do people respond to the cross? Apostle Paul in the book of 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 pointed out that there were 3 different attitudes toward the cross:-

Some stumble at the cross. This was the attitude of the Jews, because their emphasis is on miraculous signs and the cross appears to be weakness. Because they were looking for power and great glory, they stumbled at the weakness of the cross. How could anybody put faith in a carpenter from Nazareth who died the shameful death of a common criminal? But the gospel of Jesus Christ is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 1:16). Rather than a testimony of weakness, the cross is a tremendous instrument of power!

Some laugh at the cross. This was the response of the Greeks. To them, the cross was foolishness. The Greeks emphasized wisdom and looked at the cross from a human point of view. Had they seen it from God’s viewpoint, they would have discerned the wisdom of God’s great plan of salvation.

Some believe and experience the power and the wisdom of the cross. Those who have been called by God’s grace, and who have responded by faith, realize that Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom. It is in the death of Christ that God has revealed the foolishness of man’s wisdom and the weakness of man’s power.

We are called into fellowship because of our union with Jesus Christ: He died for us; we were baptized in His name; we are identified with His cross.

Today, our Lord Jesus is calling us to come and follow after Him. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:23-25).

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