Steve Coder
Cross

This is the day we remember the passion (or suffering) of Jesus on the cross and all that He did to save us.

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
           Elvina M. Hall

What He did on the cross, no one else can ever do. He was the only perfect sacrifice and we cannot add to or take away anything from what He so sacrificially and gloriously did for each of us. With His own blood, He paid the price no one else could pay and truly washed us white as snow.

A Call To The Cross

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Jesus calls a man, He bids him come and die.” The Gospel of Mark records it this way, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24, NIV84) By “take up his cross,” Jesus is indicating that there is a personal cross for each of us that we must carry.  As the old hymn says,

Must Jesus bear the cross alone
And all the world go free?
No, there’s a cross for everyone
And there’s a cross for me.
             Thomas Shepherd

A Personal Cross

When God is changing your character, the cross is applied and it usually comes in the form of a crisis. 
When a cross is actually applied to one’s life, most don’t know what to do.  Or worse yet, we believe it’s an attack of the devil. When God is changing your character, the cross is applied and it usually comes in the form of a crisis. The cross I speak of is NOT the cross on which  Jesus died. Only He could bear the sins of the whole world because He was a perfect sacrifice. The cross I speak of is yours personally. It is tailor made for you and you alone. Your cross is not mine, and mine is not yours. Each person’s cross has one desired end: Changing our character into the likeness of Christ.

Since we’ve all been called to follow Jesus, the best way to know what a cross looks like is to watch how Christ dealt with His. Below are some of the key elements involved in the Lord’s crucifixion. While you are not asked to carry His cross, you must carry your own.  Therefore, you will find many of these same ingredients in your own experiences. All or part of these may be found in your own experiences. They include: Pain and hurt at soul level, unfairness, rumors, innuendos, misunderstanding, humiliation, belittlement, loss of reputation and loss of friends.

What Does a Personal Cross Look Like?

Your friends, (many times, your “Christian friends,”) take up an offense against you.  Remember, it was the religious leaders that planned Christ’s crucifixion. That doesn’t make it any easier, and it can be unbelievable to think that your Christian friends may be a part of what seems to be your demise.

Those into which you’ve poured your life join in that plot. A Judas’s betrayal and a Peter’s denial may be the hardest part of your cross to endure. You have poured your life into those you love, and not only do you find that you have been betrayed, but they deny association with you, as well. You may have trusted a friend with utter confidence and find that trust has been broken.

Your past help is forgotten. The miracles and the servanthood are forgotten as the voices of accusation prevail. Consider that Jesus was still healing others during His betrayal in the garden; remember that He miraculously restored the servant’s ear after it had been cut off.  When they demanded to know if He was Jesus, He said, “I am He,” and the soldiers fell down to the ground! Even with all of that, they still took Jesus away and His miracles were immediately forgotten.

You are betrayed at the point of affection – a Judas’ kiss.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss.  Both the place and manner of the betrayal cut deeply. Those who loved you, those who said they were with you to the death, betrayed you, and they did it with a kiss!?! This is ultimate betrayal, not only at the point of affection, but in the place of your comradeship. The garden was the place where Jesus spent many sacred and intimate hours with His disciples and then it was denigrated by betrayal.

You are suffering at a deep soul level. In the garden, the weight of the burden of the cross was so great that Jesus told the apostles that He was overwhelmed to the point of death. At such a time, the weight, depression, and anguish is so heavy you think that you may not physically endure. You simply cannot believe this is happening to you.

In God’s mercy, what is deep and hidden within you is being revealed. Hear and see how you respond in these moments and you will know the point at which your character must change.
Your flesh recoils against the work of the cross. While we will not have nails driven in our hands and feet like our Lord, your flesh will recoil against what is happening. Jesus was perfect, and so what came out of Him was perfection. You and I, however, are not Christ.  It is very important to hear, recognize, and realize what comes out of you at such a time. This is important. In God’s mercy,  what is deep and hidden within you is being revealed. Hear and see how you respond in these moments and you will know the point at which your character must change. Then ask for the power of God to help you let any carnality die and let the cross do its work. Remember, resurrection is ahead!

Years ago, I was ministering to a man who had gone through a severe betrayal. I remember we were talking about it and he said everything was fine. Then, I happened to mention an individual that was a part of his betrayal. He exploded and went off on a bitter campaign against his ex-friend for several minutes. After he was done, he said, “I didn’t realize that was in there!” He clearly realized his flesh was still recoiling against what had happened, and then and there, he gave it to the Lord. The work of the cross was being done and God was merciful to show him what was in him.  We prayed that the anger and bitterness would be given over completely to the Lord.

When the cross is at work, your world is shaken. You have never been in this place of darkness and shaking before, and furthermore, there is no way out!  That is one of the most poignant marks of a true cross. You simply cannot find a way out! You cry out to God, but there is no answer from heaven. Everything is silent, including His word to you. Then, you have well-meaning friends tell you that your ministry is over and that if God were with you, you’d never be in this place of suffering and trial.

That’s why the people shouted, “If you are who you say you are, you’ll come down from that cross!” Why? Because it was there that Christ was defeating all of hell. The cross is where Jesus did the greatest work of all time defeating the devil and his kingdom. That’s why Satan wanted Him to come down! What would have happened to the thief (before he asked Jesus to “remember him”) if it had been possible for him to get down from the cross and keep living his life? Where would he have been? No doubt, he would have stayed a thief and spent the rest of his days bitter, angry and still blaming others for the bad hand dealt him in life. Instead, because he recognized the Lord and embraced his own personal crucifixion, He is forever with God.

If you will allow the cross to do its work in your life, you will be continually changing into the likeness of Christ. 
If you will allow the cross to do its work in your life, you will be continually changing into the likeness of Christ. Where it was applied, those wounds will have a resurrection glory on them that will convince a doubting world that God is real. And if you have rightly aligned yourself at Gethsemane, you will no longer review those who played a part in your crucifixion. No mention of Pilot, Herod, Judas, the soldiers, or the desertion of your friends. If you find you haven’t yet been to Gethsemane, go there now and and work it out with God. Read the post entitled, “Have You Been To Your Own Personal Gethsemane?” to help you along your way.

God bless you on this most powerful day. It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming!

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