The Necessity Of The Cross
A daily devotion for January 14th
22They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?"
24He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around."
25Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26Jesus sent him home, saying, "Don't go into the village."
27Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?"
28They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets."
29"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Peter answered, "You are the Christ."
30Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
31He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
33But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. (Mark 8:31)
Christianity without the cross is not Christianity at all, but a shabby, slimy substitute. The word of the cross is what makes it Christian. What does it mean? Three elements, which will come out as we continue our study in Mark.
First, it means the end of the natural, the end of what we call
self-sufficiency. That is the philosophy of the day, and how the world despises this message that it must be done away with! Not only does the world not understand it, it literally despises it! Anyone who preaches it is regarded as preaching nonsense. As Christians, we are called upon either to believe our Lord or the voices that whisper in our ears--one or the other. Which is right? The word of the cross means the end of all our reliance upon ourselves, and we do not like that. It means wiping out the natural life. Nothing that we have by virtue of being born is ever worthwhile or acceptable in the sight of God. A cross wipes people out. It does not improve them, does not better them in any way; it wipes them out.
Furthermore, the second element involves pain and hurt. It always does, because we do not like being cut off. Which of us, if allowed to choose the program by which we serve God, would ever include in it defeat, disaster, despair, disappointment, disillusionment, and death? Yet these are the very elements that God finds absolutely essential to working out His plan for us. Difficulty and danger? Yes, we include them. They challenge the flesh and make it appear to be something when it surmounts these. But defeat? Never! Dishonor? Never! Disaster? Disappointment? No! Death? Inconceivable! But they are what God chooses.
The third element of the way of the cross is that it leads to a resurrection. Is it not strange that the disciples never seemed to hear Jesus when, every time He spoke of the cross, He said that after three days He would rise again? They seemed arrested by the cross and could never get beyond it. They rejected it, refused to listen to it, and so they never came to an understanding of what the glorious event of the resurrection would mean, until it actually happened. But the way of the cross always leads to a resurrection, to a new beginning, on different terms. It leads to freedom, to being set free from natural catastrophe and disaster, to having your spirit peaceful and at rest, despite what is happening to your body or your person. This is what people really want. How we long for and dream of being free, whole, adequate, able to handle life, able to cope with whatever comes, undisturbed at heart.
Father, I ask that You will help me understand that Jesus is in the hurts, in the disappointments, in the disasters, that He is leading me on, setting me free from that which is shackling me-all myself-sufficiencyandself-reliance,all my desire to be exalted, to be made much of.
Life Application: Since the Cross and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus are the foundational pillars of Christianity, do we seek to grasp and value their profound effect upon our daily lives?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.