John 18:14 tells us that “Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.” (NIV) (For the full context of Caiaphas’ statement take a minute and look at John11:49-52) This was the point in time in which they began to plot Jesus’ death, which ultimately lead to His crucifixion on a cross.
When Jesus’ followers witnessed His crucifixion, not only did they see their friend, teacher and son crucified, they watched their hope being crucified.
I wonder if they remembered Jesus’ teaching to “pick up your cross and follow me.”? The understanding at that time, and in that culture, was that when you took up your cross, you didn’t come back. It was a one-way journey. And that’s what Jesus calls us to today.
When we pick up our cross to follow Him we abandon our will for His, just as Jesus, in the garden, submitted His will to the Father. Because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross, we can leave our old life behind, die to ourselves, and walk in newness of life. We should never, ever lose sight of the significance of what Jesus attained for us on the cross.
Letting go of our will, our hopes, and our dreams is painful. It’s not easy, it can be a struggle. And it's not without sacrifice. But when we consider what the cross really means, and what happened on the cross, and that it lead to Jesus’ glorious resurrection, then hope returns – new hope, resurrected hope, hope that is alive. A hope that He will give us life – an abundant life. And a glorious hope that tells us one day we will live with Him for eternity.
God took the cross - an object of scorn, horror, repression and humiliation - and made it a symbol of life, love, freedom and hope. Only God could do this. And today we see images of the cross everywhere. On churches, on hillsides, on artwork, on clothing, on jewelry.
Every time I see the cross I want to remember what it represents:
It’s about our sin and shame being washed away.
It’s about despair yielding to hope.
It’s about darkness being overcome by the Light.
It’s about chains falling off and replaced with liberty.
It’s about death being conquered by life.
Aren’t these the things that our world, our nation, and our neighborhoods desperately need today? We look to programs to provide relief to suffering. We look to governments to correct issues of the heart. We look to militaries to rein in evil. It’s so evident that man's attempt to make things right by our own efforts are never enough, never completely do the job, and so often create more difficulties.
We can’t forget to look to the Cross.
Let’s celebrate the Cross! Let’s write about it! Let’s sing about it!
It was good that One Man died for the people. For me and for you.