Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Cross: Stumbling Block or Stepping Stone

 My pastor, Dr. Edington, preached a wonderful sermon on Sunday that I'm going to recap here. We're doing a sermon series that focus on the message of different hymns and yesterday's was 'The Old Rugged Cross.' This hymn is one of the most powerful hymns because it clearly shows that our only hope in life is to cling to the cross of Christ. (disclaimer: I'm going to write this like I came up with it but just know that it's all God and Dr. Edington not me.)

   Many people think of the cross as a nice symbol to put on jewelry or bags or signs but in reality, without Jesus it is an awful symbol. The cross is probably the worst method of torture and execution humans ever came up with! (Criminals (and Jesus and martyrs) where whipped and then nails where driven through them to hang them on splintery wood that dug into the deep cuts. And there's a lot more gruesome details you can look up if you feel so inclined). We can't imagine kneeling down and worshiping at the bottom of gallows nor clinging to a noose in our time of need. We would think it insane if someone where to where a chain with a tiny, gold electric chair around their neck yet that is what we do with the cross. You see, without Jesus, the cross is simply the tool of an executioner. But because of Jesus, the cross has been transformed from an object of stark horror to profound adoration.
   When Jesus sacrificed Himself for us on the cross (Matthew 27:45-50) He did so out of love and in order to provide us with hope. Because Jesus is the only one not to cause sin, only He could cure sin and He choose to do so, for our sakes, despite the cost. I was saved on Good Friday at 3:00 about 2,000 years ago by Jesus on the cross.
   With those facts in mind, I'm going to tell a story. One day a little boy went to church for the first time in his life with his nanny. They sat down in the pews and the preacher began to tell a story about a innocent, young man who had been tortured and killed to save everyone in that room and the world. He learned that that man wanted His people to go and share the news of salvation with the rest of the world. The little boy looked around, expecting everyone to get up and go share the Good News but everyone else seemed quite unaffected by the news of Jesus. Stunned by the people's reaction the boy began to cry. At this point his nanny leaned over and whispered to him, "Don't take it so seriously, people will think you strange."
   Well, I don't think His reaction is strange at all. What I think is strange is that people can curse at a golf ball or scream at a TV screen and be normal but if one was to cry when they think of Jesus sacrifice on the cross it is odd. The cross is the most transformative event in history but not many people allow it to transform them or even give it much thought. This is not okay. We must all claim the cross of Jesus Christ because you cannot rightly live and cannot rightly die unless you make His cross your own.

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