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Thursday, April 5, 2007
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"I Love That Old Cross"
"Carrying His own cross" (John 19:17). "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).
John records that Jesus carried His own cross to the place of crucifixion. All the other gospels record the enlistment of Simon of Cyrene, who helped carry the heavy load. I wrote about Simon, father of Rufus and Alexander, in Tuesday's message. Apparently Christ was forced to begin the journey carrying His own cross, but Simon was drafted because of Christ's physical weakness as His walk to Calvary proceeded. I don't believe it was an act of kindness on the part of the soldiers, but rather expediency that prompted this action. They needed to get moving. They had a job to do.
At this point Jesus had been through His trial and was mercilessly beaten again and again. Our wonderful Lord was exhausted and surely the unbearable pain throbbed throughout his entire body. His back would have been a mass of open wounds due to the floggings.
What did He carry? Many feel it was likely the crossbeam rather than the full cross, as is often depicted in art. I weighed a piece of timber (6x9 inches by 6 feet) which perhaps are dimensions similar to what the cross was and it weighed 180 pounds. Even if we were to allow for half of this (90 pounds) our Lord had a tremendous weight to bear as He trudged under the weight of the cross the first part of the journey. Did He place the cross on His back, which is the most natural way to carry a heavy object? If so consider the excruciating pain he endured with each step as the rough hewn timber dug into the open wounds on His back.
Many years later Peter who likely witnessed Christ's Via Dolorosa and His crucifixion from a safe distance wrote: "He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24). As we consider the opposition Christ endured from sinful men let us this day reaffirm our commitment to die to sin and live unto righteousness!
The simple, yet profound words of the daily text are so wonderful this special week when we remember what Christ did for us. To many the message of the cross is foolishness but we rejoice in the Cross, which is a demonstration of the love, wisdom and power of God!
I thank God that Christ's sacrifice on the Cross is final and absolutely adequate to provide forgiveness for sins. Christ died once for all on Calvary's Cross to redeem fallen mankind. No better plan is needed and the mission of the faithful church is to steadfastly proclaim this message. Any attempt to invent a better redemption plan is vain and leads to apostasy.*
The apostle Paul said, "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14). Today join me in proclaiming, "I love that old cross."
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross,
Where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Jesus, I meditate upon the thought that everything that happened to You was for our benefit. Your tender response to betrayal and cruelty serves as an example to us when we are treated unjustly. Your obedience in life and especially Your death on the cross shows us how to remain steadfast when tempted to turn back. You embodied the very teaching You gave to Your followers as You carried out the will of the Father no matter the cost. Each wound that tore Your body brought us spiritual and physical healing. You were numbered with the transgressors so that we could be numbered with the saints. Because Your death was redemptive in power, the dark cross of Calvary has a wondrous attraction where I witness Your divine sacrifice on my own personal behalf. What wondrous, amazing love; it demands my soul, my life, my all. Amen.
Today's suggested music:
"The Old Rugged Cross" Audio Video
"The Wonderful Cross" Audio Video (This is a beautiful medley beginning with the classic hymn "When I Survey" with a contemporary bridge added in recent years.
This music is from the website of the Willington Church in British Columbia, Canada.
* Apostasy (falling away from the faith) continues in many denominations, churches and individuals who have an interest in and support issues that are contrary to the teachings of the Bible. Although I believe there are still earnest Christian believers in these denominations the leadership so often has led the sheep astray. Many are attempting to devise a better redemption plan than the one offered by God in the Bible; the message of the Cross. And indeed some have gone so far as to assert the message of the cross is unneeded in our "enlightened" age. Several years ago there was a "reimaging" conference among apostate church leadership where the cross and the blood of Christ were mocked.
Earlier this week I referred to sheep and lambs and today I noticed that Doris High, a local friend, has some nice sheep photos up on her site. She is an outstanding photographer!
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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