'For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.' (1 Corinthians 1:18 NASB)
The message of the cross is not foolishness for us, the ones who believe in Jesus. Rather it is a sign of our salvation and our victory through Him and above all, of God's love for each one of us.
A few weeks ago the Holy Spirit led me to look at Isaiah 53 and at Jesus in a different way. It doesn't matter how long we have been attending church or when we raised our hand to accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. If we have not come to understand who Jesus is, all is vain in our faith and in our Christian walk, and our eternal destiny is not yet defined.
Only when we know who we are following and accept His work in the cross as necessary and sufficient to give us forgiveness for our sins, will we truly be aligned with God's eternal purpose - reconciliation between Him and mankind through His Son, Jesus Christ.'
'For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life' (John 3.16) Jesus’ sacrifice was to save us from eternal condemnation and to give us new life, not to provide us with assets or social status here in this world.
When we read the description of Jesus and His death in Isaiah 53 we can be tempted to look at our Saviour emotively, feeling His pain and sorrows and pitying this man who was so humiliated, mistreated and killed for our sins. It's written that He was 'A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (verse 3) that surely our griefs He himself bore, And our sorrows He carried (verse 4) and that 'He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities' (verse 5a). By the end of this chapter we are so emotional that we almost forget that this man was also the Son of God Almighty, who was sent into the world in flesh.
This Son willingly surrendered to the cross, out of love for each and every one to whom God Himself gave the breath of life. If we look at Jesus as someone who 'merely' suffered for us, then like many of the people at the time, we miss a key point.
Verse 4b says 'Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted' which means that those who were looking at Jesus 'supposed', 'considered', 'thought' that Jesus was in that condition. That is to say: whoever looked at Him like this in that moment didn’t fully see Who He was. And up to this day many of us Christians hold the same view. We need to change our view of Jesus. As a man, He did suffer and very much. However His suffering cannot be just something we feel sympathy about. We have to be able to see the power and sovereignty of the one and only God, as well as the Lord's unconditional and perfect love for us in all the pain, in each wound and in each humiliating word He endured. He did not need to go through all of that, but He chose to love us.
The finished work of Jesus on the cross allows us to find our new identity in Him, remembering what Jesus has done for us. Let us take the cross as a central symbol for our new life, our new identity in Him. Jesus willingly placed Himself on the cross, moved by intense and perfect love, in obedience to God.
And now it is our turn to make the decision of whether to take up our own cross. No one will force us to do it, but if we want to follow the example of our Master, Jesus Christ, and willingly surrender, out of love, we have to take up our cross, move and even die in the love and in the eternal victory Jesus won on the cross.(I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2.20)
If we attend church every week, but we haven't yet accepted or realised how deep God's sacrifice and love are, let's read the Scriptures and ask Him to help us accept and believe His love. Without fear of rejection and without fear of condemnation. 'There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.' (1 John 4:18, NASB)
May God bless each one who reads this word and that each one of us may be willing to die to the ways of the world and to our fleshly desires every day, that we may do this because we love the Father and in order to have communion with Him. The Lord cares a lot more about our relationship with Him and who we are in Him, than in what we do for Him.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36, NASB)