Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Cross Is Not Enough

The cross is not enough!  Now, I don't want to diminish the power of the cross.  For on the cross, Jesus paid the price for our sin.  It was there, that Jesus died in our place.  The cross was the place where the judgment of God was reconciled with the grace and mercy of God.  It was the place where the unconditional love of God is so clearly seen.  "When we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Still, the story of Jesus does not end with the cross.  It does not end with death and Him being placed in a tomb.

This time of year, believers all over the world celebrate a resurrected Jesus!  They celebrate a stone that was rolled away and a tomb that lays empty!  While our culture tries hard to sell us on the concept of a rabbit that apparently has worked out some arrangement with artistic chickens, our focus as believers is on a Savior who was miraculously raised from the dead. It is in this event that all of our hope and faith hinges upon.  Paul said to the Corinthian believers that "if Christ has not been raised, then our faith is in vain."  Without the resurrection, our faith would be much like a house built on quick sand or a screen door on a submarine.  Our faith would be without foundation and our hope would be nothing more than an exercise in futility. Oh, but thank God for the resurrection!!!

On the cross Jesus dealt with our sin, but it was the resurrection that conquered our most powerful enemy.  Those that stood at the foot of the cross and mocked Jesus by telling Him to save Himself, were clueless to the fact that He had come to actually save them.  That salvation, though it included the cross, would have stopped short had He determined to "save Himself," by coming down from that cross.  Oh, He could have pulled off a self preserving miracle, but their salvation, our salvation, depended on something more.  Our salvation required a much bigger miracle.  Our salvation wasn't dependent on Him flexing His muscles and annihilating those who were crucifying Him.  Our salvation hinged on Him annihilating our biggest enemy.  The enemy none of us can defeat, yet all of us face....death!  Our salvation demanded He defeat death!  Our hope for living, truly living, is anchored in a Savior who could stare death in the face and kick its butt.  Like a scorpion that's lost it's stinger, or a viper that's lost its fangs, death was rendered powerless the very moment that stone was rolled away. "O death, where is your sting?  O grave where is your victory?"  It is only because of the resurrection that death no longer has power over us as believers.  Death is no longer reigning in us, but His life now flows through our veins.  We are no longer dead men, dying, but alive men, living.

This day, and every day I celebrate a risen Savior.  I'm thankful for the cross, oh but I'm also thankful that He didn't stop there.  The cross was just an upper-cut and and right hook to the head of the enemy.  The knock out punch came when my Savior and Lord stepped out of the tomb to declare to us all that death has been defeated and life is available to us all.  The resurrection is enough!!!

For more, listen to Tim's Podcast - "The Cross Is Not Enough"

Friday, April 3, 2015

He Was Despised And Rejected

He rode into Jerusalem to throngs of people welcoming Him with open arms.  Unfortunately, there were many who were not quite so welcoming.  There were those who just did not like Him at all.  Jesus, wasn't oblivious to this fact, and it didn't prevent Him from coming to town.  As a matter of fact, one of the reasons He came to town was to offer these who had consistently rejected Him another chance.  Over the course of the next couple of days, Jesus would confront these who rejected Him.  He wasn't there to pick a fight or to stand on a soapbox.  He didn't come to argue or debate.  He didn't come to Jerusalem to condemn them.  He came to reach out to them.  He came to plead with them.  He came to warn them. He desperately wanted to awaken them.  He wanted to open their blind eyes to the truth.

The Pharisees and Sadducees didn't want any part of it though.  They didn't want Him up in their business.  They didn't want Him meddling in their lives.  They liked things just the way they were and viewed Him as a threat to their way of life.  They didn't want to hear what He had to say.  They just wanted Him to shut-up!  So, since He refused to appease their desire for non-confrontation, they determined to take matters into their own hands.  If He wouldn't keep His mouth shut, they would shut it for Him.

Jesus was despised and rejected because He loved enough to speak the truth.  He was rejected because loving humanity was worth that risk.  Jesus risked rejection by choosing to truly love. He could have been comfortable sticking with only those who readily accepted Him, but He chose to continually reach out to those who wanted nothing to do with Him. In reaching out to them, He never changed His message.  He refused to allow their rejection of Him to change His approach.  He wasn't interested in tickling their ears or appeasing their desire to sign off on their lifestyle.  He didn't come to tolerate their intolerable behavior.  He risked rejection by pointing out the corruption in their hearts. He didn't do that to condemn them, but to prevent them from condemning themselves. He did it all because He loved them. That love resulted in a cross.

More than once Jesus challenged His followers to take up their cross and follow Him.  I'm thinking "our cross" must too include being despised and rejected.  However, that rejection never happens until we determine to truly love.  We never truly take up our cross until we are willing to love enough to risk being rejected.  If we truly love, it is a certainty that there will be those who reject us.  Jesus, Himself, told us we could count on it.  On the road to our cross, sure there will be times when people will receive us, but we too must be prepared for those who despise and reject us.  I think its safe to say that if our journey does not include moments of being despised and rejected then perhaps we're not following very close to the One we claim to be following.

For more listen to Tim's Podcast - "The Road To The Resurrection - Part 1" and "The Road To The Resurrection - Part 2"