Monday, August 28, 2006

Cross Character

A man's attitude as he approaches death ought to be a cameo of his life's character. Consider the impetuous cry of Horatio Nelson, the unstinting commitment of Robert Scott, the optimistic vision of Martin Luther King, and so on.

Now think about the attitude of Jesus of Nazareth as he hung upon a Roman cross. John 19:25-27 provide a good summary.

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother; his mother's sister; Mary Cleophas and Mary Magdalene. Seeing his mother and his beloved disciple [John], Jesus said to his mother, "Madam, look, this is your son." Then he addressed his disciple, "Look, this is your mother." So from then on, that disciple accepted her into his own family.

Three great virtues of the Lord Jesus Christ were also displayed in his followers at the cross.

  1. devotion
  2. care
  3. obedience


If the Son of God had not been devoted to his Father, then he would never have gone to the cross. But his unquestioning devotion had brought him to Calvary, and would take him through Calvary.

Some of his closest acquaintances were so devoted to him that they followed him to Calvary and stood by him, even in that place. At Calvary, it was not only shameful to be associated with Jesus of Nazareth, it was also dangerous. How little stigma is attached to his Company in 21st century western society!


If the Son of God had not cared for us, then he would never have gone to the cross. But because he loved a world of helpless and hopeless humans, he died so that we could have our sins forgiven through faith in him.

It is clear from his words that he expects his followers to show the same self-denying care - first to one another ("This is how all men will know you are my followers, when you love one another" was his advice) and then to the world at large ("love your enemies" was his most stark and difficult command).


"He became obedient to the point of death, and that a cross death." Marvel at the extent of his obedience to God the Father! Without that obedience, we would never be able to pay the price for our disobedience to God. But the Bible clearly teaches that his obedience more than compensates for our disobedience, (as ever, with the "by faith" disclaimer!).

His clear expectation on the cross was that his followers would carry out his dying requests in loving obedience to him. His commands still stand today. And obedience is still expected. The first command "You must be born again!" is prerequisite to all others ... faith is fundamental to following Him. With that foundation, we can exhibit devotion to duty, care for others, obedience to God - just like Him.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mindless Violence

Last Friday night, my friend and I became the victims of mindless violence. A Liverpool youth accosted us, accused us of insulting him and promptly hit us both, hard. Without explanation, indeed, without reason. Causeless, mindless violence.

Over the last few days I have been thinking about our experience. It helped me to imagine a little about how the Lord Jesus must have suffered, as he faced "such contradiction of sinners against himself". They "did not know what they were doing" as they mocked him, battered him and utterly abused him. Was this just mindless violence? In one way - yes - since the perpetrators had no thought about the significance of their actions. However in another way - no - since the victim knew exactly what was coming his way - before as well as during the horrific events of his Passion. He was fully aware of all that "the Father had given him to do" - and fully ready to accomplish it. He never acted mindlessly. He "humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, and that a cross death". Why? He did it for me!

"He was wounded for my disobedience
bruised for my immorality
He took the punishment to bring me peace
And because of his beating, I am healed"

Thank you Lord! Once a victim, now the Victor!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Peace-Loving Israeli

The concept of shalom permeates Jewish society. From a casual greeting "shalom!" to a title of Divinity "SHALOM" (Judges 6.24) the word is often on their lips. Shalom means peace, the state of rest, well-being, completeness and prosperity (according to W.E. Vine).

This shalom sentiment seems a far cry from the current actions of the state of Israel as portrayed in the Western media (bbc, cnn). But let's think for a while about one Jew whose every word and action epitomized perfect shalom.

He said things like this:
  • "Let tired and troubled people come to me and I'll give you shalom" (Matthew 11.28)
  • "I bequeath shalom to you, my shalom I give to you freely" (John 14.27)

He did things like this:
  • Bring immediate shalom to nature, on a stormy night at sea. (Mark 4.35-39)
  • Grant lasting shalom to people, afraid and doubtful as they were (John 20.19-23)

The greatest shalom He offers is in our relationship with God. Naturally we are estranged from God, alienated by our sinfulness. He can provide us with forgiveness, reconciliation and shalom. How? Because he
"made shalom by the blood of His cross." (Colossians 1.20)

In His death, He suffered all the trials, troubles and torments so that we can come to know and enjoy the perfect shalom of God in our hearts. The angel song of "Shalom on earth, good-will to men" can become a reality to us when we accept Jesus as Messiah, Saviour, and Lord in our lives.