Today’s post is part two of a two part blog series on the problems with the cross of Jesus. Yes, I did say that. There are some major issues when it comes to the understanding of many regarding the nature of the cross of Jesus Christ. While these two blog posts are not meant to be an exhaustive discourse about this topic, I do hope these posts can bring some more clarity to the person and nature of Jesus Christ, and the demonstration of love that His cross is.
Several folks told me personally that part 1 of this series was very eye opening to them. I hope today’s post can be equally as helpful, if not more. If you haven’t yet read part 1, please read that HERE before reading the rest of this post.
Problem #2 An Insufficient Demonstration.
The cross of Jesus was lacking something. Now before you call me a heretic, I would like to remind you that I’m not the first one to say something like this. If you know anything about Paul the apostle, you know that he suffered tremendously for the revelation of Jesus Christ that he carried. Simply put, Paul was familiar with the cross. This is what he had to say in regards to why he suffered:
“Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church”. -Paul (Col. 1:24)
Can you believe that he actually had the nerve to say that what he was enduring had something to do with a lack in regards to Christ’s sufferings? Although it sounds audacious, it’s true. There is something lacking. The cross of Jesus is lacking a sufficient demonstration.
Although our Lord loves to tell stories, our Lord isn’t simply a story teller. He didn’t just break into the created realm, put on human flesh, demonstrate pure love, and then leave us a historical book about it. No, He had a much better plan. The highest form of love that can be demonstrated is when one lays down their life for another. Christ demonstrated this with His very own life when He allowed Himself to be brutally murdered on the cross.
There was no greater love ever demonstrated than the cross of Jesus Christ. Although I am not sure why this is the case, I can tell you that the cross served as the breaking of the ultimate dam of love. The cross of Jesus radically unleashed and expressed love upon the relationships that He had.
As powerful as this love is, however, the story alone of this heroic act of love is not sufficient for us to truly know love. Our Lord knew this, and as a result, He knew that we would need to see and experience a demonstration of the cross of Jesus in our own lives and relationships. This is how the highest demonstration of love truly breaks into our own world. By placing His life within us, He is Emmanuel (God with us) in every sense of the word. We live out His death & resurrection in our very own bodies.
When the cross is demonstrated to you, or in you, the following components of Christ’s cross will unleash life giving love in an unexplainable way:
1. Through unjust accusations.
In Peter’s letter to the church, he tells believers that suffering for righteousness sake brings a blessing. I can personally tell you that the ‘blessing’ that Peter was talking about is the supernatural awareness and deepening of love. Again, I don’t know why this is, but seeing someone (ourselves or another) suffer because of unjust accusations moves and breaks our hearts toward a greater awareness of love.
For example, both Jesus & Paul were unjustly accused of promoting and teaching destructive and dangerous practices. I think it’s important to note that those who brought these accusations against them legitimately believed that Jesus & Paul were going to bring dangerous and sinful changes to their way of life. They felt they had to stop them for the cause of righteousness.
In the case of Jesus, the religious leaders saw Him as an uneducated & untrained Rabbi who had no regard for their authority. They were wary of His growing influence among the people and were quite concerned that people were now publicly calling Him the Messiah and king of the Jews.
The Roman authorities were known for their heavy hand in putting down potential rebellions, and this brought fear to Caiaphas the chief priest. Because of Jesus’ growing influence, he was certain that the people would be led astray after Him. Caiaphas feared the Romans would destroy them all for attempting to have another king. This led to his decision to have Jesus accused and killed. This is also why Caiaphas said that it is better if one man die in place of the whole nation (John 11:49-51). Obviously, he didn’t mean that in a good way. Jesus words about tearing down and rebuilding the temple in three days were also twisted and used against Him.
In order to have the Romans crucify Jesus, they had to convince Pilot that He was leading a treasonous rebellion against Caesar by claiming to be king of the Jews. They did their best to make it seem like Jesus was a political revolutionary who was attempting to set up a rival earthly kingdom that would be hostile to Rome’s authority. This was obviously not the case as Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world’s system.
In the same way, Paul’s words were also twisted to bring accusation against him. When Paul went to Jerusalem, a riot ensued and the Jews had him arrested and beaten because of the false accusation that he was instructing people to ‘violate the Jewish law’. Because of Paul’s appeal to live by a new covenant paradigm and not the old, many thought Paul was advocating a fleshly and dangerous lifestyle that would derail God’s people. Those who brought these accusations against Paul were convinced they were standing up for righteousness by having Paul silenced and put under arrest. This eventually led to his beheading.
Those who knew Jesus and Paul personally knew these accusations being made against them were false, but this did not stop the false accusations from having their way. For love to be fully expressed, these men needed to be falsely accused and murdered in the most humiliating and severe way possible.
2. Through voluntary submission.
In order for love to be fully expressed, the injustice of the cross was accepted by the ones being crucified. Jesus knew who He was. He also knew what He meant regarding the words He spoke about rebuilding the temple, and the nature of His kingdom. He did not accept their accusations, nor did He attempt to reason with His accusers. When He was under His secret trial called late at night, He simply stated the fact of who He was, and He also referred back to His previous teachings. He did not reason or agree with them, yet He accepted their verdict against Him.
In a similar way, Paul chose to go to Jerusalem even after he was warned that danger and accusation awaited him there. After being arrested and beaten, Paul appealed to his rights as a Roman citizen and legally defended himself to the authorities. This led to his trial and imprisonment being extended almost two years, eventually leading to his death. Had Paul accepted his accusations and not appealed to his legal defense, he would have been released much sooner. Love motivated Paul to publicly appeal to the reality of Christ, however. Paul knew that if he agreed with the accusations being brought against him, many would go right back into the slavery of religion & law all over again. He did it for love and to embolden those who knew him. His suffering and chains gave them boldness.
A friend of mine loves to say that love loves to love. Simply put, He loves to express His love to us. Because the cross is the greatest expression of His love to us, know that He seeks to demonstrate His love right into our own world. Brothers and sisters, the more you know and walk in His love, the more you will be brutally murdered and falsely accused. The cross will become more than a story to you and those around you. When this happens to you, please allow it to soften and break your heart. Let your tears flow. Love is expressed through a broken heart.
To be chosen to demonstrate the cross is an honor. When the brutality of the cross comes to you, consider yourself honored. Lean into the still small voice of love within you and drink in His love. As the dam of love cracks and breaks because of His cross, allow His love to wash over you and overtake you.
If you are witnessing someone you love be crucified for love’s sake, consider yourself honored that the Lord would see fit to demonstrate the cross to you personally. Consider yourself loved. Don’t become an accuser as Job’s friends did, nor should you take up the offense of their unjust accusations. Simply let your heart be broken. Brokenness & love go together. That’s the point. Let love wash over you. Let this demonstration of love unlock you to love freely and more confidently than ever before. This love, when it has its way, will heal the sick, open wombs, and raise the dead. Our love for one another is the vehicle of this new kingdom.